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The Battle of Orgreave (2001)

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Title: The Battle of Orgreave (2001)

The Battle of Orgreave (2001) on IMDb 6.4/10

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13 January 2002 (USA)  »

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Wasted chance to utilise the emotion on offer.
27 June 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In March 1984, the National Union Of Mineworkers went on strike. On the 18th June that year, one of the most violent clashes between picketing miners and police took place near Orgreave corking plant. Estimates vary, but as many as 15,000 people are thought to have been involved.

The British miners strikes was a depressing time for many, not just those on the inside but also those on the outside who could see a crumbling industry reduced to ruin by Margaret Thatcher's government. Tainted by riots and numerous instances of dubious politics on both sides of the fence, it's a period of British history crying out to be told....well. This is a re-enactment of the Orgreave clash that dominated the headlines in that miserable June. Directed by Mike Figgis {Leaving Las Vegas}, it features some of the actual participants in the real events. Ex miners, policemen and ambulance workers line up to re-stage what is basically their memoirs. Intriguingly adding spice is that some of them switch roles, Ie: miners playing policemen and vice versa. But, and as good as it is to see so many former miners getting jollification from the get together, lots of the feeling and emotion is notably missing {look closely and you can see some of them laughing in battle}.

It's a shame that it doesn't work totally because when it is serious, like during sporadic interviews with the battle scarred folk willing to show it, it impacts hard. But it's such an odd mix that it doesn't sit right once the actual re-enactment occurs at the end. Most telling, and certainly what I got most from the piece, is the part the press had in proceedings, most notably the BBC. Thru snippets given by way of former Member Of Parliament, Anthony Benn {MP for Chestefield}, we learn that the fatal first charge that began the riot was in fact made by the police, not as was shown by the BBC, by the miners. Incidents such as when a man ran on to a stage and belted Union leader Arthur Scargill in the stomach was reported as being the work of a disgruntled miner, when in fact it was a retired police officer. It's with stuff like this {the BBC would issue an apology many years later} that makes The Battle Of Orgreave at least a worthy viewing, even if ultimately it's a wasted chance to grab the viewer by the throat. 5/10

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