My wife and I just returned from watching the new movie starring Meryl Streep, Iron Lady, dominated by the director's skillful, seamless and really nothing less than "artistic" editing of past, present, earlier past, nearer past and present into a montage of authentic performances by Ms Streep and the rest of the cast. And Prime Minister David Cameron is right when he says the movie is really about Ms Thatcher's dementia as much as about her political career.
The only woman in the Conservative Party caucus when she entered the House of Commons, after a first unsuccessful attempt in 1959, when women were virtually unheard of, and certainly unwelcome in the political backrooms of all western nations, including Great Britain, Mrs. Thatcher was headstrong, determined, persistent,
ideologically "right" of centre and eminently combative. She fought the trade unions, busting the coal miners union; she fought the IRA and the war in the Falklands, after the British islands were invaded by the Argentinians.
She will be forever linked to President Ronald Reagan, her cohort in reducing the size of government, and in her case, provoking violence in the streets, at the hotel where her party was holding its convention and in various locations carried out by the IRA.
The movie brings to life a political regime of austerity, self-righteousness and even arrogance not at all dissimilar to the current class of Republican/Tea Party members of the U.S. Congress, and the Canadian government under a leader who is nothing more or less than a clone of the "thatcher" model of political leader.
She would not listen to her Cabinet, just as Harper runs his own one-man government.
She refused to see the need for government compassion and fairness, preferring instead to tilt her government in favour of the wealthy, and against the ordinary people, in the same manner as Harper does, and either Romney or Gingrich would.
The timing of the movie's release, just as the 2012 presidential election is beginning in the U.S. will remind voters there, and unfortunately also in Canada where we do not go to the polls again until 2015, of just how repressive and frightening a right-wing leader and government can be and have been, not so very long ago.
If the movie has the desired effect, it will move a majority of voters away from the Republican camp and re-elect President Obama. It will also enrich and spread an awareness of ageing that is both credible and somewhat frustrating both for the individual and the family of the elderly.
From an artistic perspective, the movie provides outstanding acting, a brilliant script, uplifting and seamless music and sound effects, and one of the most clever editing performances in any movie.
From a political and historic perspective, the movie is an authentic rendering of her time in office, her determination and role modelling for other women seeking public office, and a scathing critique of what she considered "weak men" for whom she grew tired making apologies. Her fragmented relationship with her own spouse, Dennis, is captured in his exit scene, in which he declares, "You will be just fine; you have always been just fine on your own!"
Streep's portrayal is so complete, authentic and convincing that it reminds one of the other women cut from the same cloth, proud, determined, capable and completely intolerable of anything less than perfection from others, none of whom were equal to or even close to her own performance, just like my own mother.