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Made in Dagenham has brilliantly broken the mould. It combines the clear, explicit and nuanced politics of the best of Ken Loach with the heart-grabbing attractions of any mainstream popular film you care to name. The brilliant scene where Sally Hawkin's modest and unpractised union rep spells out why the job she does is skilled is a metaphor for the whole movie. Politics isn't hard to understand it's our lives, stupid! I cannot think of a previous British film with a mainstream aesthetic that has had the guts before to put the ordinary workers' point of view so wholeheartedly at its centre. But this is no simplistic idealised narrative. Going on strike, as the women find, makes you very unpopular, not least with the very people you'd thought would support you the Union leadership and your fellow (male) workers. Nothing is a cinch, nothing too easily won and Sally Hawkins brilliantly portrays the thorny predicament of the figurehead of the struggle beginning to doubt her own single-mindedness and how much it's costing not just her family but the entire town (and possibly the UK's) working community. Made in Dagenham shows a true story in a truthful, thoroughly engaging way. There is not one bum note in any of the performances from Kenneth Cranham's sleazily compromised Union official, to Rosamund Pike's surprisingly moving posh wife, to Jamie Winstone's wannabe model everybody has a committed credibility without ever being worthy or cloying and Sally Hawkins (with a startling look of the young Rita Tushingham) plays a richly layered blinder in the central role. Huge hats off to the writer Billy Ivory who has written a bright, funny, completely unpatronising and clever script. And a big, big thank you to producers Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen for the guts to get right inside the truth of this big, big story that started in a little place.
I am disappointed to read some of the negative vibes about this film. I saw a screening at Vintage Goodwood yesterday and the enjoyment of the audience was overwhelming complete with outbreaks of applause. Some really excellent cinematography especially the extreme close-up of Sally Hawkins in one of her most desperate moments provided a very authentic backdrop to a really believable time-piece movie. Bob Hoskins, Rosamund Pike and Sally Hawkins excel. I came out of the cinema having been educated, entertained and emotionally touched. I wonder just how many of the negative reviews have been written by men who of course may just be feeling rather embarrassed by the roles of their historical alter-egos.
From the director NIGEL COLE (Calendar Girls, Saving Grace), MADE IN
DAGENHAM tells the tale of the 187 women that worked at the Ford Motor
companies Dagenham factory - and their struggle to earn equal rights
and pay with the 55,000 male workers at the factory.
Set in 1968, the economy was used to frequent union uprisings and strikes but this was the first time that it was the women upholsterers who sewed car seat covers that took the initiative after being "down-graded" to a non-skilled status the women rose as one to walk out, in an action that brought them into direct conflict with the management, their own unions and their own husbands eventually brought the Ford motor company to it's knees
Many laughed at the women's actions until their strength of feeling and reality set in forcing the unions and the management to take increasingly desperate measures to get the women back to work as factory production ground to a halt.
Rita O'Grady (played admirably by SALLY HAWKINS), a shy, pleasant worker working in sweat shop conditions, found her voice when asked to stand up for the women's views, and gradually became more and more empowered as the rest of the women stood behind her in a crusade that became synonymous with equal rights
The story climax's nicely in an emotional showdown, as the situation finally comes to a head and the chief participants (Ford, the Government, the Women, the unions and the men workers) all realise that things have gone too far and none of them can back down.
As well as Sally Hawkins, there are some strong performances by other members of the cast specifically, Bob Hoskins as Albert, Miranda Richardson as an exuberant Barbra Castle, the lovely Rosamund Pike as Lisa, Geraldine James as Connie, Kenneth Cranham as Monty (Unions) and Richard Schiff as Robert Tooley (Ford).
The music, costumes and the locations set up the tone of the times nicely, and the direction is solid throughout. The camera work is able, and is interspersed with footage from the actual era giving it more gravitas.
In a phrase, it's "Girl Power union style"
Greetings again from the darkness. The first thing that strikes you
about this movie is that it looks and feels like ancient history. In
fact, it is based on the real life happenings in 1968 - only about 40
years ago. Sally Hawkins (so wonderful in Happy-Go-Lucky) portrays Rita
O'Grady, the Ford sewing machinist who reluctantly takes on the
leadership role in the battle for equal pay for women.
Director Nigel Cole tells this story minus the heavy-handedness of the times. In fact, it's a very entertaining tale of right vs wrong - because "that's how we have always done it". He uses actual archival footage of Ford plants, cars and workers, as well as general footage of England circa 1968. These cuts give the film a feel for the times and prevent any over-analysis of wardrobe and sets in the movie. Mr. Cole clearly has an understanding of women based on this film and his previous work in "Calendar Girls".
The cross-fire between the unions, Ford, the workers and the government really bang home the notion of just how ridiculous this entire argument was (and is). Rita O'Grady was so effective because she cut through the muck and made it what it really is ... a simple case of right vs. wrong. Rights vs. privilege. This was never more apparent than in her meeting with Secretary of State Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson). Madam Secretary is attempting to negotiate a settlement that will keep Ford happy, but quickly realizes ... with help from O'Grady ... that there is really only one correct course of action.
Supporting work is excellent from Bob Hoskins, Ms. Richardson, Daniel Mayes (as O'Grady's husband), Rupert Graves and Rosamund Pike (husband and wife on different teams) and the rest of the cast of women, as well as the Ford executives and Union leaders. The film mostly rests on the shoulders of Sally Hawkins, who breezes through with a natural energy that just makes you want to pull for her. She was terrific in Happy-Go-Lucky, and even better here.
The film stops short of detailing the massive battle that escalated the following year between Secretary Castle and the Labor Unions. Most attribute these fights to the downfall of the Labour Party in 1970. However, Ms. Castle's contributions are very clear in these all important topics and led directly to England's Equal Pay laws of 1970, which in turn paved the way for most other countries to follow.
This is a very uplifting film and shows the bravery and determination required of those who change the course of history. Whenever you hear talk regarding the lack of strong female movie roles, this film is exhibit number one that fact can be even stronger than fiction!
I really enjoyed this film. Why are such top-notch films so few and far between? A great period piece... a great illustration of social history. It is well written apart from a couple of modern expressions in the dialogue. It is brilliantly acted, the settings, costumes and clothes are excellent. It took my attention at all times and I was sorry when it came to an end. The women really gave the impression of being genuinely good mates. I hope the working conditions for them in Ford's were not quite so cramped as the film portrayed! I worked in a clothing factory in Witham, Essex in 1968 and there was room to walk round all the sewing machines and we kept it immaculately clean. It's a pity equal pay still isn't quite there, in spite of legislation. That old trick of changing the job-title to keep the pay-rate down perpetuates! I have just read the other reviews. I notice Richard Schiff mentioned a lot... not sure who he is or what he played in the film, but I also note the more negative reviews are written by men, which illustrates the point of the film has well and truly got home. Something I found to be most refreshing in this film is the characters, which I would describe as normal... It was not about people who are constantly saying "f**k and are late for posh weddings. Nor was it about people who work for or know a prime minister and meet up when they go to the local comprehensive school nativity play. As for "hot pants" appearing... these girls were machinists... they would have made their own clothes... we all did. My sister made a very short pair of bright yellow shorts in 1963. We've got the Super 8 film of her wearing them to prove it!
After a summer of endless animations and shlock-horror here - at last!
- is a film with real heart.
Sally Hawkins is a revelation as Rita who becomes the striking machinists' spokeswoman; her speeches to co-workers, union chiefs, management and the press all start out tremulous and gain in confidence as she hits her stride. Geraldine James who usually plays upper-class ladies (I'm still trying to forgive and forget her breast-feeding David Walliams in Little Britain!) here plays a kind of 'upper-working-class' woman with a husband still shell-shocked from WW2. John Sessions does a Spitting Image turn as Harold Wilson, and Miranda Richardson morphs her Blackadder Elizabeth I into a fiery Barbara Castle (dressed by C&A).
In my Gap Year (date withheld) I worked in a Sussex factory that had a sewing-room. The movie gets the atmosphere exactly right but I don't think working women were quite as free with the f-word back then as they are in this script. The end credits run against pictures of the original Dagenham strikers who all look like clones of Corrie's Ena Sharples and Florrie Linley. Some of the film machinists are more Carnaby Street than Coronation Street, but that's OK. These girls make you laugh, they occasionally bring a lump to your throat, but most of all they make you want to cheer.
A small slice of 1960s history, this film packs a big punch. Do not miss it.
Made in Dagenham hit the screen and shows that a not-exceedingly-mega-
budget film can be the best of the year.
The factually based story of how the Dagenham women brought Ford to a standstill makes for surprising film material.But it works .The film is authentic to the late 60s down to the tea cups and kitchen cabinets , the clothes and make up.
Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle steals the film,Bob Hoskins,Geraldine James are all excellent in their roles.
Stay in for the credits though, that part of it had me reaching for the tissues .
This is a film which will have you shaking with anger one minute and crying the next.Highly recommended.
Made in Dagenham is a gem of a film, thought-provoking, entertaining and emotional. It tells the true story of the 187 women working as machinists for Ford Dagenham plant who's fight for better pay and conditions played a key part in the battle for equal pay nationally and internationally. I was moved to tears by the passion and commitment shown by ordinary women taking on the entrenched sexism of the time. A sparkling performance from Sally Hawkins as Rita the leader of the group is complemented by excellent performances from the whole cast including Bob Hoskins, Geraldine James and Jaime Winstone. Aside from the serious issues the film also provides a wonderful wallow in nostalgia for the late sixties. I highly recommend this film, the best I've seen so far this year.
The movie gets to convey the atmosphere of those months in 1968, where 187 women joined together and went on a strike to ask for equal salaries to men, and better conditions of work. We as viewers really feel the cohesion, the solidarity, as well as the tensions of this group. Never pedantic, or too dramatically committed, the movie gets to make the public, mainly the female one, reflect upon the hard struggle women had to face before getting some basic rights, when still actual and necessary is the reflection about today's condition of female workers, when some kind of discrimination is still to be faced. However, the movie proceeds with a soft and entertaining pace, maybe at some points too entertaining, the sparkling character of Rita O'Grady herself was invented in order to make the story more cinematographically involving. No doubt however the cast makes a difference, the actresses offer single heart-felt interpretations, in the same way as the choral shots show intensity and strong emotion.
A fine recreation of the major historic step for equal pay for women. Dramatic but with plenty of laughs in the workplace and the biased tradition of different levels politics. Also a glimpse at the class differences in modern 1968 England and the soundtrack instantly took me back to when I was 20. This should be mandatory watching for management till they really understand it. Also mandatory watching for the rest of us to remind us that fighting for a cause is difficult but can succeed. Very well written and acted, I see a lot of movies and most need more spend on shortcomings in the story/script and less on overpaid actors, I really could not find fault in "Made In Dagenham".
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