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|Index||128 reviews in total|
Brassed Off stands out from the usual comedy of manners by it's
passion, verve, and the fact that it did what good films do: came along
and hit the right chord at the right time.
And it still does.
Even now watching it again it is genuinely a funny, moving, and great experience. It is like watching a sports comedy but with brass bands.
Yes, it is does wear its heart on its sleeve and it is both a comedy and a tearjerker; but it has a real soul, focusing on a colliery band and their lives by using comedy rather drama is a smart way to tell something of what happened to those 250,000 men (and their families) who lost their jobs in 140 pits across Britain. What makes Brassed Off great is that is does not scream, instead it uses real humour and light touches to make its point, and it is watchable because it's genuinely a good, moving film.
With a good solid cast, including a young Ewan MacGregor and the excellent Pete Postlewaithe, solid directing, and more than a touch of northern rough humour, the films charms and disarms the viewer.
Definitely worth viewing from a human drama, and comedic point of view: it's fun, funny, moving, heartwarming; and reminds us that hope, dignity, and pride are still worth playing for.
Despite being British myself, British films tend to get on my nerves.
They make themselves hard to take seriously by the way that all
regional accents are overdone, and because of this - the acting always
seems forced, and the drama trite. There are a few quality British
productions, however - and Brassed Off is definitely one of them. I
didn't see this film upon release, as it never appealed when I first
heard of it, and then when The Full Monty was released; I had a feeling
that this would turn out to be what it looks like; a less audacious
version of said film. This is actually a better film than The Full
Monty, as it does everything that did for the demise of the steel
industry, but it's characters are much more defined and far easier to
feel for; and as the characters are the most important element in a
film like this, the success of the film can definitely be put down to
the way that the characters have been written. The plot follows a group
of people that work at an ill-fated coal mine. The mine is everything
to these people, as it provides their livelihood; but for this group,
the closure of the mine would also mean the end of their brass band.
Brass bands aren't the most exciting thing I can think of, but the fact that it is a brass band and not, say, a football team at the centre of this film really helps it in it's bid for greatness. The brass band gives the film it's unique edge, and the way that the band comes together helps to give the film the element of sentiment that it needs, but not one so sickly that it brings the film down with it. In fact, this film's lack of sentiment is one of it's major assets too - so many films get bogged down in their own sentimentality, but this one avoids it, and makes you feel for the characters because of who they - not because you've been manipulated. The film is meant somewhat as a tribute to the amount of mines that have been closed in Great Britain, and yet still it never forces anything down your throat and, in true British style, Brassed Off looks at the tragedy of the mines closing in good humour and with a tough upper lip. This isn't an astounding piece of cinema, but everything about it comes together well - Brassed Off has characters you can feel for, some truly laugh out loud moments (one in a church springs to mind instantly) and an all round sense of goodwill. It's hard to really hate a film like this - so don't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*Spoiler/plot- Brassed Off, 1996. A 100 years old coal miners brass
band members hit economic and social troubles when their coal mine's
labor problems threaten to shut the mine down along with the band
*Special Stars- Pete Postlewaite, Ewan McGregor, Jim Carter.
*Theme- Taking a social stand and speaking out is as important as making band music.
*Trivia/location/goofs- UK, Yorshire. This film's band music caused a resurgence of interest in band music. Wtach this film for first-time on camera performances for many British and Scotish leading character actors.
*Emotion- A thoroughly enjoyable character driven film plot about regular people's struggles with work, family and goals. It's a memorable film for it's themes, good casting, writing, and production.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For any American worker who may be feeling a bit under-appreciated
relax! No one does working-class anger and analysis like our British
cousins from across the sea.
Brassed Off takes place in Grimley, a small mining village in Worchestershire, England, threatened by the possibility of their mine closing. Tara Fitzgerald plays Gloria Mullen, a surveyor for the Grimley Mining Company, whose job is to create a study that she thinks will keep Grimley open and save jobs.
"My figures show Grimley has a future. It's a profitable pit," she tells Andy, her friend, fellow band member, and old flame. Ewan MacGregor, as Andy Barrow, is one hard realist who schools her in the ways of management's shady plans over coffee one night.
"You're report means as much to them as we do. . . bugger all. . . And those good eggs at the head office think they've done all they can. Oh dear. . . they've been very fair, very reasonable. Done their best, done their sums and - oh dear - they just don't add up! They'll have to close another pit a shame and they probably made their decision why you were still in college."
Gloria can't understand why Andy will vote to keep the mine open then, if the majority of miners will be voting for "redundancy" - to close the mine and take a buy-out.
"No hope just principles", he replies.
Amid the backdrop of this drama, Gloria and Andy's budding relationship suffers a few bumps and bruises along the way. A few of the more vocal Grimley Colliery Brass Band members accuse Andy of being a scab and Gloria a management sellout until almost the bitter end. The film intersperses strike scenes and family crisis's with rousing band numbers, as they practice for a musical competition.
The late and great Peter Postlethwaite, portrays Danny, the orchestra's leader in good times and bad. The musical numbers represent the spirit of the town as the villagers grapple with their pressure and problems. He encourages the band members to keep going, no matter what, even if it means the further deterioration of his own poor health. Danny believes that the band can win fist prize, which symbolizes their collective spirit - undaunted and unbowed.
During her viability study report to management, Gloria discovers that Andy's predictions are all-too accurate, right down to the timing of their decision to close Grimley. Gloria discovers that she too has principles and resigns her cushy position, which ultimately enables the band to travel to the band finals at Albert Hall.
The band plays on, all the way to Albert Hall, even though many of the members are cynical and demoralized, knowing that their lives will be forever changed as a result of management's callous actions. And although Grimley closes, Danny and Gloria are able to rally the Grimley Brass Banders to play their hearts out in London at the National Band Competition, winning first place.
Danny: ". . .over the last ten years, this bloody government has systematically destroyed an entire industry. OUR industry. And not just our industry - our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of "progress". And for a few lousy bob. I'll tell you something else you might not know, as well. A fortnight ago, this band's pit were closed - another thousand men lost their jobs. And that's not all they lost. Most of them lost the will to win a while ago. A few of them even lost the will to fight. But when it comes to losing the will to live, to breathe, the point is - if this lot were seals or whales, you'd all be up in bloody arms. But their not, are they, no, no they're not. They're just ordinary common-or-garden honest, decent human beings. And not one of them with an ounce of bloody hope left. Oh aye, they can knock out a bloody good tune. But what the f*#k does that matter? And now I'm going to take my boys out onto the town. Thank you."
See what I mean?
Brassed off is an amazing film and all the way through, a smile was
kept on my face. Although I am only fourteen, I love films which are
based on reality, just like the pit closures around England.
I play in a brass band my self called Frickley South Elmsall band, and trust me, they have all the facts right; I have been to five contests in all and nearly every band member has had a drink or two before the contest it's self.
I first watched this film when i was eleven and loved it. I was inspired by this movie, to actually try and make it to a colliery band, (obviously not Grimethorpe as they don't accept girls) and I have actually met the flugal player which played concerto De aran jeux, Alan Morrison.
Overall, I loved this movie and have seen it more than twenty times; simply fantastic!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love this movie, the acting is terrific, particularly from Peter Postlethwaite. I have never seen a bad performance by this man and in Brassed Off he reduces me to tears. Coming from the North of England and having survived the Thatcher years, the story of the pit closures is very familiar to me. The comments on this site about the closures being necessary surely miss the point. These men lived in small villages such as the fictional Grimley (actually based on Grimethorpe) and coal mining was the only industry available and despite this being an industry which destroyed their health, it was their life. These were men who had their entire lives taken away. For the record Thatcher was not a heroine (as she is regarded as in the USA). She all but destroyed my country and we are still living with the results of her policies all these years later. A final point about the accents, I know many Americans think us English either talk like the Queen or Dick Van Dyke but we all in fact have regional accents. I do know Yorkshire accents can be quite hard to understand (my accent is Lancashire) but it would be unrealistic to try to dumb it down, the accents are part of the film's charm, after all it is a British film. Perhaps Americans should watch it with subtitles. P.S. The music is ACE!
I just want to correct a couple of things that the previous reviewer
makes about the film.
Firstly, from a musical point of view, Gloria does not enter the Grimley bandroom with an obligato cornet, it's a flugelhorn.
The fact that a woman has entered the band room is important. For a long time, the brass band was the domain of men. Women weren't allowed to play in the bands and indeed, this is still the case today in two of the biggest names in the banding world.
Underpinning all this is the fact that the film is (at least) semi-biographical. The events unfolding in the film mirror in no small way the same events which befell the Grimethorpe pit in 1992, and impacted on the world-famous Grimethorpe Colliery band. Thatcher's Britain did result in the pit closing down, and threatened the band's future. The band did take the stage at the National Final, and so the reason that the band don't turn professional is because there is no room in the banding movement for a professional band.
For a point of information, there are 4 basses in a Brass Band, 2 Eb and 2 Bb (not 2 or 3). Oh yes, and bandsmen most certainly do carry there instruments through the street without a case, especially bass players.
On a slightly different point, Phil does not have a gambling habit. He is still paying off the loan that he took out in 1982 to cover the loss of earnings because "suspended I were. 18 b****** months it took that lot to sort it out. 18 b***** months on strike pay. That's how big a f***** deal it is mate."
It is a remarkable landmark in British film making.
Fantastic acting throughout by renowned actors Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Trainspotting) and Pete Posthlewaite (Dark Water, Romeo and Juliet) act their hearts out.
The story focuses upon a group of coal workers in Britain who are under pressure with a potential of their mine being closed and who are all in a ban together.
Its an emotional driven plot where each passionate character has their own issues in life but are all working their best in a band.
The added use of the band scenario is what made this film. It provides encouragement and inspiration for the weakest of people, to see people bound so well is remarkable and I can't express in words how emotional and passionate this film was.
The filming and direction was simply terrific. Set outside in the cold UK emphasised how brilliant the film is, and you won't know until you watch it how amazing it really is.
Great acting, an emotional driven story it is a fantastic British film and is a definite watch.
This film brings together the classic sound of brass instruments along with a dramatical performance from the cast. Now, as someone who has grown up listening to brass music, I am the first to say i didn't like it. But the honest truth is it grows on me, with some of the performances in this matching the historical feelings behind the times with the emotional problems of the characters, and tying it to the music. This is one of those films in which you have to see once, and make your own mind up. All I can say is that i've seen the film a few times, and i know many others have, and every time the general appreciation grows slightly
After playing my DVD (which replaced my VHS) for the 20th time, I
decided to review some of the user comments. I was surprised that a
disproportionate share came from outside the US. I suppose it has
gotten more play there.
Many comments focus on the story of coal mines being closed because of many factors relating to other energy sources. Many also focus on it being a political issue (What isn't).
From my point of view the displacement and plight of the coal miners is a touching and true story but altogether too familiar since the start of the industrial revolution. The current equivalent in the USA is the rampant "outsourcing" of technical jobs all over the world. On the other hand colliery brass bands (now very professional) is a very unique British phenomenon that this movie celebrates. That is what turns me on. It is quite a treat to have an entire movie revolve around a brass band. While the ending of the movie suggests that the band disbands (unintended word play), the Grimethorpe band who did the music still lives today.
I agree with a comment that suggested the scene where Gloria joins the band and they play Rodrigo's Concerto is one of his favorite scenes. In fact, the reason I just watched that scene again for the 50th time is that I recently returned from a cruise that featured a classical guitarist as one of the entertainers. I was surprised that he played the same music in the scene. It did not seem right to me but then I discovered that Rodgrigo was one of the world's greatest guitarists and wrote this concerto for a guitar not a fluglehorn.
The presence of Tara Fitzgerald at her prime and Ewan McGregor in a far different role from his superb performance in Moulin Rouge are extra bonuses as is the oft-mention acting skill of Pete Prostelwaithe.
Still if you don't like Brass Bands, pass this by. The music is the real difference between this exceptional movie and the similar themed Full Monty, which I detested.
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