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Matters of music and of people
ToldYaSo3 August 1999
You don't have to be a fan of brass bands to enjoy "Brassed Off", but it couldn't hurt. The music is a central focus of the film, but not as a compromise to the story of a town in turmoil. Coal mines being shut down in the name of progress puts many men out of work which naturally also jeopardizes the existence of the colliery band. The music combined with brilliant storytelling (and editing) is merely a platform for some superb acting, particularly from Pete Postlethwaite.

Having lived all my life in a large metropolitan city, I cannot relate first hand to the plight of a small town community. Despite that, I found the story intriguing even though it may seem the outcome is somewhat predictable.

Having just purchased the DVD, I found the brief write-up on the box to be way off the mark. It touts this film as some kind of romantic and hilarious comedy, never once even grazing past the real subject matter of the film. This is another perfect example of the continued miscalculated promotion of a truly well crafted film that "Muriel's Wedding" also fell victim to. I'm not sure what the promoters were thinking, but if you set someone up for a hilarious romantic comedy and what they receive is a thoughtful serious and sometimes depressing film, are they going to be happy just the same? There are graciously some light moments and humourous turns in this otherwise sombre subject matter, but this film doesn't have a happy ending. But it sure does have a moving one. Postlethwaite's performance hits you in an unexpected way and you'd have to have a heart of stone to not be moved by it.

Any success that the film enjoys now that's it's strictly on video, is likely to come from very strong word of mouth. I had been told how good it was and enjoyed it immensely. Now that I've seen it twice, and thus been twice moved, I wait for a reasonable time to pass so that I may watch and enjoy it again as I am bound to do.
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Very moving and beautiful
grendelkhan15 April 2003
I was lucky enough to catch this movie in the theater and still luckier to come across it again on video. How anyone can call it a comedy is beyond me. Yes there are some laughs, but there are far more tears; some of pain, some of joy. This is a drama with a sense of humor. You have to keep a sense of humor to survive when life kicks you in the gut.

I've read some reviews condemning the politics of this film. Well, I applaud the political message. I grew up near an industrial town; one centered on the auto industry, heavy machinery, and agri-business. As I got older, I watched it disintegrate, through the 70's and 80's, as the grain embargo, auto industry woes and recession bled the life out of the town. It has never recovered. Many of us felt that Reagan and Thatcher, and their descendants, were monsters who sold their people out for a quick buck; while the parties that were supposed to represent the workers and middle class joined in the takings. To us, this isn't an anti-Thatcher film; it's the truth.

The performances of this film, particularly Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson, as well as Ewan McGregor and Tara Fitzgerald are top notch. There is a sweet and painful romance here; but it is the community of the miners, through the life of the band, that is the center here. The music is beautiful and will move you. The piece played as the pit closure is finalized stirs so many emotions. The rendition of "Danny Boy" brings tears to your eyes. The review in our local alternative paper said the surprise near the end would reduce even the hardest heart to tears, and they were right.

There is so much to see and love about this film, regardless of your political beliefs. Music does matter, but the people who create it matter, too. Communities matter, love matters. This is what good filmmaking is all about. See this film. You'll laugh a bit, cry a lot, get angry, become sad; but, you'll never be bored.
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Utterly wonderful in every way
loz-11 March 2003
This is British Cinema at its very best and has been my favourite film of all time since I first saw it on the big screen. I cannot think of two more powerful performances committed to celluloid than those of Peter Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson. There is so much emotion in "Brassed Off" that anyone who fails to be moved must have a heart of stone...if indeed they have a heart at all. People I know (or reviews I have read) that didn't like the film have criticised the intense political messages within it, but in my opinion these folk are missing the point entirely. It's true that there is a fierce undercurrent of anti right wing leaning running through the movie, but to portray the characters any other way would be factually inaccurate. Some may view Thatcher as a Saint, but characters like those in Brassed Off can only ever view her as an evil tyrant. Anyway I'm going off on a tangent now. My point is this: Brassed Off is a very humane picture that paints a picture of early eighties folk who have been robbed of their livelihood, yet still manages to be funny, charming, heartwarming, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. A truly wonderful film.
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Wonderful film with few weaknesses.
Matt-22523 March 1999
A superb film. A film which did not seek to glamourise the effect of long term unemployment and the break up of communities. And a film which WAS based very closely on a true story. The band members you see actually playing the music? That's the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, winners of the national Battle of the Bands competition in the year that the colliery closed down. And they did turn professional too!

Films like Brassed Off, which seek to present a view of a sensitive issue, are often derided for not offering a solution which can be written on the back of a cereal box. Personally, I take that as a recommendation!

The point of the film is this: put people in situations that most of us will happily never face, and they react in extreme fashions. There was little or no 'political' argument, other than the fact that the Conservative Government of the time did destroy an entire industry. That same government them spent millions of pounds a year buying coal from Europe and South America. Angry? I would be.

I saw characters portrayed in their entirety, which meant 'scabs' and 'sellouts' rubbed shoulders with the committed and poor. I saw unflattering portraits of basically decent people, prepared to risk friendships and relationships to keep alive an industry which was killing them but without which they could not live. It was a desperate time, and the fact that families have been split since the 1984 strike shows just how deep feelings can run on this issue.

And I saw no skipping over the holes in the logic either. No mention of the 4-1 vote in favour of closing the mine? Half of the chuffing film was about that! What about the fate of Gloria's report? What about Phil, a striker from 1984, voting for closure? Did no-one notice that he was one of the major characters?

I do think that there were some problems with the structure of the film (although it was dramatically more satisfying than the Full Monty). Gloria was unconvincing; the wives were underused, and the speech at the end, yes, I found it embarrassing too!

But please, before you attack the veracity of such a rounded and honest film as Brassed Off, take the time and trouble to watch it properly first!
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Almost perfect
moosic19 May 2002
I have seen Brassed Off many times, I do in fact own it, and every time I watch it it never fails to move me. There are certain moments that stick out to me as either breath taking or harrowing.

1) That famous 'Concierto d'Aranguez' scene. The first time I saw this scene it took my breath away, literally. When used well music can move you in a way words can't. The juxtaposing of this piece of music against the union's meeting is one of them. I haven't been this moved by a piece of music with actions since then apart from the Roxan sequence in Moulin Rouge.

2) The scene where Phil loses it when playing Mr Chuckles I actually can't sit through. I have to fast forward because the emotion the Stephen Tompkinson manages to portray is so strong it's painful to watch.

Through all of this though I think my favorite scene, the aforementioned 1) excluded, is when they compete in all 14 tournaments and get completely rat arsed. The sight of these brilliant musicians trying to continue playing when they can't see straight, stop laughing, or keep their instruments in one piece is one of the most honest, amusing and humble moments in a film in recent years. there is no flashy camera work, no deeper meaning, just something that says exactly who these people are. Ordinary human beings, not super-heros, and just trying to live life whilst having fun in difficult circumstances. And you really can't play wind instruments drunk, I've tried.

The film is not perfect. It is a bit preachy, especially the end. And McGregor's accent, although he plays the part beautifully, does slip at time, especially in his longer speeches. But the humanity of the film and it's charm out way all of it's faults.
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the miners' political kick to the establishment
didi-525 April 2004
'Brassed Off' came at just the right time for British politics, just as the death knell for the Conservative Party as the main political force sounded; the story fictionalises the troubles of the real-life Grimethorpe Colliery Band (who you hear playing the great brass band tunes throughout).

There are pit closures all over Yorkshire, and 'Grimley' Band has one last chance to triumph in the various band contests to end up playing at the Royal Albert Hall. This being drama of course the path to victory isn't a smooth one - there is bankruptcy, illness, broken marriages, and a clash with the new executive power (represented by Tara Fitzgerald, also taking a place in the band for her father). Romantic interest for Tara is present in cute Ewan McGregor - an unusually quiet role for him.

Say what you like about the way this film portrays the North of England, there is no denying the power of the final sequences as the triumph of 'William Tell' turns into Postlethwaite's power rant against the Government and into the trip home's 'Land of Hope and Bloody Glory'. It really couldn't have been done better.
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Wonderfully warm and human film
rps-213 January 2004
This film has everything: Humour. Poignancy. A message. Human characters. Warmth. A great cast and good story. Interesting locales. Creative techniques. (Watch for the clown scenes and especially the one in the playground.) "Brassed Off" was (and is) a powerful editorial indictment of the Thatcher government of the time. Yet it does not preach other than in the opening and closing credits which are pithy and innovative. Anytime you see something with the Channel Four label on it, you know it will be interesting, provocative and a little different. They outdid themselves on this.
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How can people watch this & miss the point entirely?
queen_of_anarchy26 November 2006
Why did I say that? Because most of the negative comments come from right wing liberal haters who have entirely missed the meaning behind the film. I even read one which announced "keep politics out of my entertainment"!!!

Sorry, but the story is based around real events & the politics of the miners & the times are an integral part of that story. One poster (from Scotland who should have known better) stated :

"I think the problem I have is this film really plays up to the clichéd northern stereotypes it's almost offensive , the male characters all work down the pit , play in a brass band etc that it's impossible to believe in them as real human beings."

It was a colliery band - of course all the male band members worked down the pit - that was the crux of the story. And why does working down a pit & playing in a brass band diminish you as a real human being?

According to a poster from Yorkshire, who lived through the pit closures, it was VERY true to the times. Mr Scotland is being a bit elitist I think. I'm an Australian who cringes (&, if comedy, laughs) at the depiction of the stereotypical Aussie (think "Kath & Kim" if you get it over there) but that's only because I'm not one. However, the country's filled with them!!

It was a magnificent & moving film which captured the essence of the Thatcher years of destruction. If your not familiar with the period then do yourself a favour & read a bit about the history behind the pit closures etc before you watch this film - you'll enjoy it a whole lot more.

For you fellow Greenies out there, yes, I agree coal mining must cease but you don't go and pull the safety net away from a community without having something else to take its place. BTW. the closures didn't lower the use of fossil fuels anyway - the UK just started to import coal instead.
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Land of bloody hope and glory eh!
Spikeopath25 February 2009
Grimley Colliery Brass Band has been going for nigh on a century, but as the town's colliery itself comes under threat of closure due to the drawn out miners strikes, so does the bands very own survival. Giving much relief to a very depressed area, the band are hoping to make the grand finals day at the Royal Albert Hall, could the arrival of Flugelhorn player, Gloria, be just what the band needs? Or is she merely the catalyst to something far more critical?

Brassed Off is the first of what I personally call the Magical British Trio, three films that perfectly portray the British sense of humour during dark depressing times of unemployment. The other two of course are The Full Monty (1997) and Billy Elliot (2000), of which Brassed Off is essentially an appetiser of sorts, the warm up act for the big hitters so to speak. Not to say that Brassed Off is not worthy to sit alongside those well received pictures (home and abroad as they say), it most certainly is, it's just that its blend of humour and strife doesn't find any easy ground, thus making it hard for the undiscerning viewer to be at ease at the right moments. It is in short, unsure of what it primarily wants to be. The humour does work well tho, but it's in the dramatic core of the miners strikes, and the affects they have on the denizens of this quaint colliery town, that Brassed Off truly works, with some scenes literally tugging away at the old heart strings. Then there be the music itself, The Grimethorpe Colliery Band {on whose real life story this film is based} provide the music for the soundtrack, and its most enjoyable, often stirring, and definitely poignant at crucial moments.

The cast are tremendous, Ewan McGregor and Tara Fitzgerald offer up splendid youthful heart, but they are playing second fiddle (or should that be third brass section?) to Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson. As father and son, Postlethwaite and Tompkinson give the film its deep emotional being, each driven by differing needs, Brassed Off's success rests with both men being able to hold the viewers attention from the get go. Tompkinson has made a very profitable and thriving career in British Television, and rightly so, but it remains criminal that he didn't go on and make more well known and profitable full length feature films after his fabulous turn here. Filmed in the ideal Northern English town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Brassed Off is a film that has evident problems, but to someone like me, a Brit who lived thru those depressing days under Margaret Thatcher's government, it's a film that I love for a myriad of reasons, one can only hope that one of those reasons strikes a chord with yourselves.

A completely biased 9/10 from me!
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Human and heartwarming
antoniotierno28 March 2005
Director is Mark Herman but the movie themes remind Ken Loach and its stories about people losing jobs but keeping their dignity... Basically everything is inspired by events that really took place over Margaret Thatcher Government (when the film is set). Miners living in a Yorkshire small town (Grimley), when laid off, try to continue the activity of their band, though sadness due to economic repression is a real threat to it. But Ewan McGregor and Pete Postlewait (who on earth might forget him after "In the name of the father"?) are really powerful, two thumbs up. Altogether I really appreciated the way this film tells of fight for self-respect and courage.
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underground musical offering
Philby-37 March 1999
"The best thing about being working class is getting out of it" said a notable Australian Labor politician (Neville Wran, premier of NSW 1976-1986). The coal miners in "Brassed Off" thought so too, but found redundancy not what it was cracked up to be. At the start, pits are closing all over Britain, but the Grimley colliery in South Yorkshire is still open and making a profit. After a hard day's dirty work down the mine there's nought like a session with the band to blow out the dust. Let by total obsessive bandleader Danny (Peter Postlewaithe) the boys play a surprising range - Rodrigo's "Aranjuez" (we call it "orange juice" says Danny), Rossini's "William Tell" overture and lots of Elgar and other English sentimental favourites - "Jerusalem," "Danny Boy," "Colonel Bogey" and "All Things Bright and Beautiful."

Though possible closure is on the horizon, things are fairly cozy until pretty young Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) walks in with a vintage obbligato cornet and asks to join. She's a woman (shock, horror!) but granddaughter of a former member and after a demonstration of her musical prowess is allowed in. Brooding young Andy (Ewan McGregor, unforgettable in "Trainspotting") has kissed the young lady years previously and falls for her again.

The band have their problems, especially Phil (Stephen Tompkinson) son of Danny the leader. Phil has an unfortunate gambling habit that keeps him broke and his family on the financial edge. In the background the future of the mine is becoming bleaker.

In the meantime Danny, who is developing a very bad cough, decides the band can make the national championships at the Albert Hall, and despite bailiffs, mendacious mine management, feral hospital matrons and British weather they get there.

This film in many ways is an update of the fine, well crafted "Ealing" comedy of the 1950s, celebrating the triumph of ordinary people over adverse circumstances, officialdom and middle class pretentiousness, through their own determination and talent. For the 90s the comedy has a harder edge and the political element more overt. At the end we are reminded of the hundreds of pits closed and 250,000 jobs lost in Britain between 1984 (the year of the great miners' strike) and 1994. But surely the filmmakers are not arguing the miners should still be down below. Global warming alone means coal has had its day. The real crime was the failure to invest in alternative employment and to allow the destruction of the communities which had grown up around the mines. The British State, which owned the mines for 40 years after World War Two, proved a harsher master than the old private owners, especially when the Bad Baroness herself, Margaret Thatcher, decided to sell.

On the strength of their performance here, the (mythical) Grimley band could easily turn professional, like the similarly displaced workers in "The Full Monty." Unlike "The Full Monty" the "Brassed Off" crowd don't step outside their mind-set - they are still chained to their working class attitudes and the future looks like happening without them. They escape from the working class to the underclass, clutching a year's salary most of them will soon be parted from. The traditional happy ending of the Ealing comedy is here only symbolic. Still, the miners' spirit shines through and you can't help admiring their grit. And the music's nice.
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Pete Postlethwaite died
drjmarkov3 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
May he rest in Peace!This was the best brass music film I have ever seen and it wouldn't be the same without the ill conductor,who overcame his illness and came to conduct the miner's orchestra of the already fired workers of a closed coal mine.The movie enlightens with the beautiful brass music-especially the "William Tell's overture" from Rossini and the spirit of the musicians,who won a nationwide contest of brass orchestras and dedicated their victory to all the miners,who lost their work during the decline of the coal mining in the United Kingdom. The film shows the importance of the art for the existence of the sole human and the society even in times of turmoil.
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The Yorkshire valleys are alive with the sound of music.
Cinema_Fan2 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
South Yorkshire, England, and its 1917, the year The Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band first formed, now, some 75 years later this is their story, albeit loosely, of how they and their coal mining community struggled against pit closures, redundancies and the grim prospect of the Bands possible split during the early 1990's.

In the fictional mining town of Grimley, this is the towns folk and their love for their community, heritage and of course their music. Set some years after the 1984 - 1985 miners' strike that brought the National Union of Mineworkers to its knees and Thatcher's Conservative Government to implement new laws to prevent miners from travelling in convoy to assist other coal pits. This was butchery of human liberties' and the hearts and minds of this once great mining tradition throughout England and Wales. Rumours of MI5 infiltration via spies, phone tapping's and its anti subversive and heavy handed State Police style tactics and the new laws formed by then Tory party that prevented striking miners any State Benefits that lead many families into vast amounts of debt. This only succeeded in the English coal mining communities to further dig their heels in and fight for their jobs, their rights and their families. One only has to see the opening sequence to the true story of the 2000 movie Billy Elliot, that set against the 1984 strike itself, to get a taste of the extreme harsh dictatorship and demoralising positions the miners were placed under.

The year is now 1992, and we now see the aftermath of the last eight years and how this particular mining community has adapted to its changing climate of crumbling poverty and hollow existence. Now the threat of closure has finally caught up with them and they too must make a stance to regain any dignity they have left. With pickets and their rallying calls of "Miners united will never be defeated", the harsh facts are more relevant in 1992 as it was back in the mid '80's.

Brassed Off centres on the future of the Grimethorpe (Grimley) Colliery Brass Band and its bandmaster Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) ambition to reach the finals of the National Brass Band competition. While walking on eggshells his is a story of pride and bitter resentment that he just might be the last of his kind. The fabric of the band is interwoven within the collieries future, one cannot exist without the other, Danny's refusal to give in, to accept this fate is more than commendable to his ever-increasing worries of ill heath, family concerns and dashed and missed hopes. This is a movie of civic pride, the battered, bruised, withered and imploded egos, the cold unforgiving nagging of the pressures of older men beaten down by the new age of Privatisation and globalisation and the younger men who too are falling victim to this new giant of corporate sell-outs'. There after, to add insult to injury Grimethorpe, via a 1994 E.U. enquiry into poverty, had become of the poorest and destitute towns in both England and the European Union.

Brassed Off shows just a very tiny tip of the poverty stricken district on this South Yorkshire village here, the debt collectors, Pawn Shops, picket lines, the feuding and divided relationships between men and their wives and their children and the struggle to make ends meet for the basics is at times harrowing to witness. This may be a fictional place but the times and actions are as true as the mines that have now become housing estates, parks or wastelands and sad reminders of a once thriving British industry, very much liken to the Steel industry of Sheffield, as seen in the 1997 movie The Full Monty.

We see a young Ewan McGregor as Union member Andy, and his love interest with the pretty clerical worker Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) making a nice metaphor for the dealings between management and the betrayed workforce, but in the end it was all about the music; these guys weren't just brassed off they were punched and kicked to the ground.

During a radio interview with the actor Stephen Tompkinson (Phil) in early 2007, it was said that the movie showed the band winning the Trophy at the Royal Albert Hall some two weeks after the closure of the pit, but the reality was that they won it the day after the pit had closed its gates for the final time. This two-week time scale was added because the writers thought that the movies audience would seem this to be a little far-fetched and unbelievable.

Mark Herman (b. East Yorkshire, 1954) has written and directed this fable of trouble and strive, if a little on the sentimental side, but rightly so, a hard-hitting realistic flashback of the times of a land of prosperity turned upside down and laid to waste and the terror of despair of a people that died a little with it.

Where there's camaraderie there's always hope and always glory, even in this land of gold and brass.
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wow, just so good.
steveridz4 October 2006
Just amazing, by any way you choose to measure a film this is exceptional.

Set in Sheffield during the Thatcher government this film deals with the closure of the mines that were at the centre of so many communities and the people caught in the middle.

I first saw this film about a year after it was made, when I was 11 or so and thought it was exceptional (I then encourages as many of my friends as possible to watch it, very few were convinced). I saw it again recently and was bowled over by just how good it is. All the performances are completely believable. Though every member of the cast could steal any other film with the quality of their acting two stand out in particular, Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson, they just don't look like they're acting, it's far too real.

When I first saw the film I appreciated the script, plot, the dark humour in desperate circumstances. But I never appreciated the subtleties, just how good the acting is and just how gracefully shot the film is.
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Banding - more than just a hobby
climbingtuba213 October 2006
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."
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Effective Combination of Uplift and Economic Reality
noralee19 December 2005
"Brassed Off" is a surprisingly tough anti-Thatcher flick, and I did have some problem with the thick accents now and again.

While I could have done with a bit more romance, there was an excellent story line of working class difficulties to attend to that is similar to downsizing heartbreak here.

Pete Postlethwaite as the band leader/black lunged ex-coal miner was terrific, but so was Stephen Tomlinson as a guy with just everything against him under so many pressures.

Yeah it's a heartwarming story of trying to keep dignity vs. Big Business, it's not a fantasy but upliftingly realistic.

Ewan MacGregor took what could have just been the male ingénue role and was quite intense with it.

Amazingly - there's no child abuse in it, what a relief these days. Everyone here really loves their kids, their jobs, their community, their colliery band. It's just the Tories (and management) they hate.

I just hate to think how hopeless things are for them after the movie ends.

(originally written 6/14/1997)
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Highly watchable drama with top performances
VisionThing1 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Whoever designed the cover for this film ought to be shot. But don't be put off by its ghastliness or the silly name, Brassed Off is actually a top quality movie.

The synopsis for Brassed Off must have had an overwhelming potential to turn out either as an exceedingly cheesy film about rugged-coal-workers-who-yet-display-soulfulness-through-music or, possibly worse, as an uplifting musical. Thankfully, it is not a musical. It is not a tacky comedy either. It is actually one of the best dramas I have ever seen.

Granted, the movie is a bit predictable and contains a few scenes that feel overly calculated. But all in all the potentially goofy script unfolds with amazing grace, turning into an enjoyable movie portraying grey, gritty imagery populated by highly competent and flawlessly performing cast. Thanks to them, the end product is not pathetic, but poignant; this is not cotton candy, but main course. Even the compulsory happy ending has an edge to it.

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stacy_g_ie26 May 2002
I sat down a few weeks ago to watch this film on Channel 4. And in many ways, this film is superior to many others, both British and American, of the last 30 years or so. It is a natural, wonderfully-acted film that moved me to tears in many scenes.

The plot? It's about a group of miners in a small Yorkshire town who are also members of a brass band. However, the mine is to be closed down, and the film shows what happens to the redundant workers afterwards. There is also a romance between Andy Barrow and Gloria, a woman who works for the management of the mine, which causes conflict in the group.

Many scenes made me cry like a little child. One of these was the 'Danny Boy' scene outside the hospital window. Another was the scene where Stephen Tompkinson (one of the most under-rated actors working, in my opinion) dressed as a clown, is entertaining a group of children at the local church and loses it, completely, because he's so preoccupied with the thought of his sick father.

The Albert Hall scene at the end is very emotional and enjoyable, and one of the highlights of this beautiful film. Sadly, many of the actors in it are still unrecognised as truly brilliant. Ewan McGregor lights up the screen in a pre-trainspotting role, however, but whatever happened to his love interest in the film, Tara Fitzgerald?

Overall, a beautiful, emotional and deeply moving film that made me cry. I don't usually cry at films. When most other people cry, I laugh. Not this one. Had tears rolling down my cheeks. There were a few funny lines however, such as 'Is this man bothering you?' "Of course he is. He's my dad" which is both funny and sweet. See this film the next opportunity you get or you'll regret it later on. 8/10.
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Music as a weapon
valadas12 March 2001
In 1995 the Tory Government in Great Britain goes on with the policy initiated by Mrs Thatcher in 1984 of closing down coal pits and mines, making thousands of people jobless and miserable. Against this dramatic background which brings despair to a lot of families causing a lot of domestic trouble, a bunch of miners and a girl unite themselves with the aim of maintaining alive an old brass band in a Yorkshire mining town as a way of fighting the mine closure. We hear music that warm our hearts up and makes us forget for a moment the miners' drama. Despite some sentimental cliches like the one of the estranged wife who comes at last to see her husband play and that one of the dying band director who flees away from hospital to watch the band performance, this film conveys a message of will and solidarity in a rather efficient though sober way. It's worth seeing.
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Probably the best political social comment film in British cinema history
johnm-skews13 August 2010
I was born into a pit village (Wombwell) and i lived / worked through the miners strike. Not as a miner, but believe me when i say that everyone - EVERYONE who lived in the area at the time was effected in one way or another. The film depicts the relationships that existed at and around the time of the strike and the years that followed. It was a time of turmoil and Brassed Off is spot on in it's depiction of how friends and neighbours / colleagues and workmates / staff employed underground and in management or office roles were at loggerheads.

Nothing can ever truly express the feelings and hardship that was the miners strike and the pit closures that followed.

Arthur Scargill (figure of hate / love / comedic derision or political leader dependent on your background) was WRONG.

Not necessarily in his views but certainly in his prophecy of the future. For even he did not predict the final number of pits that the Thatcherite government would evidentially close.

The film is to many a landmark in British movie standards. To pigeon hole this film as a comedy - musical - political dialogue - does not do the film justice.

If ever a film ticked all the boxes, this is the one.

So sit back and watch a true cinematic epic! And the music (from a heavy metal fan at heart) is fantastic beyond all proportions.

If you don't feel overwhelmed by William Tell or if Danny Boy doesn't bring a tear to your eye - then you may as well give up, as the message and the meaning of this film (that the only really important things in life are what you have always taken for granted) are probably why you never understood films such as Kes.
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Brassed Off
Don Tyler23 December 2009
Brassed Off is a British film about the troubles of a colliery brass band when the coal mines that sponsored the band was forced to close by the government in 1992, the same week the Grimethorpe Colliery Band won the National Brass Band Championship. The closures killed the coal industry in England and forced many miners out of their jobs. "Brassed off" is a British slang expression that means dejected, fed up, upset, which is what the coal miners were when they were forced into retirement, into joblessness, and some even into suicide when the government closed the mines. Between 1990 and 1997, the party in control of the British government was the Conservatives, who were led by John Major, although the film calls them Tories or the Tory party. When the government decided to replace coal with nuclear power as a source of fuel, approximately 140 coal pits, representing more than 200,000 miners' jobs, were deemed redundant. The government offered the workers "redundancy" – forced retirement with severance pay. The film is set in Grimley, a fictitious town that represents the village of Grimethorpe in South Yorkshire, in the early 1990s. In the late 1970s, the European Union named Grimethorpe the poorest village in Britain. The village, however, is still fiercely proud of their brass band that has been in existence since 1881. The film has been criticized by some as a poor imitation of the Yorkshire dialect and accent, but most American audiences wouldn't know the difference. If you like brass band music, you'll enjoy Brassed Off and you'll learn some history about the British government closing the coal mines at the same time (something the U.S. may be forced to do in the not-too-distant future if the environmentalists have their way).
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The Miner Key in the Major Range
intelearts19 April 2007
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.
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Miles better than it looks
The_Void11 September 2005
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.
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One of the final nails in the coffin of the outgoing (1997) Conservative government
DesbUK28 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
BRASSED OFF is a 1996 movie from England - written and directed by Mark Herman - in that tradition of those movies about the working classes attempting to better themselves: THE FULLY MONTY, BILLY ELLIOT and MADE IN DAGENHAM being other prominent examples. At the time it seemed like one of the last nails in the coffin of the outgoing Tory government.

It's set in a real-looking Yorkshire mining town a few years after the 1984/85 miners strike, where the local coal mine is about to be closed. The miners (Ewan McGregor, Jim Carter, Stephen Tompkinson and others) find solidarity in their brass band under their conductor - retired miner Danny (the late Pete Postlewaite in his finest screen role), a man for whom music matters above all else.

The pit closes, but the band makes it to the national brass band competition final at the Albert Hall. On winning, you expect Danny to make some sentimental speech about how - in spite of everything - music holds the band together. Instead, he delivers probably the explicit political diatribe against the then Conservative government and the devastation unemployment inflicts on people. It's a superb moment in a film with its heart and soul in the dying working class communities of Yorkshire. This isn't a piece of Ken Loach-like realism - it's prettified and sentimentalised for a mainstream audience, yet the movie looses nothing for it.

At the close, the brass band play Elgar's Pomp and Circumstace March Number 1 as they pass the Houses of Parliament. It's meant to be ironic but it's also very touching.
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