By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Iron Lady--Movie Review

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher
Image via Wikipedia
Last night, I saw the film "The Iron Lady" on former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (hereafter referred to as "MT"). I highly recommend it. Here is my bullet review organized by theme:

1. Aging and Loss: The movie is not merely political (thank goodness!)--it is a profound meditation on aging, loss, and bereavement as it portrays how much MT missed her deceased husband and how she adjusts to advanced age. The lesson here: grief and bereavement for a deceased spouse is a singular privilege--it means that the relationship was a blessing. Not all can say that.

2. Ambition: Yes, we need ambition; and MT was inspired by her grocer father who was also a local mayor who preached self-reliance. The movie links several scenes in a clever fashion: MT's mother washing dishes when the young Margaret receives the letter informing her of her acceptance to Oxford University--the mother's hands are too damp to read the letter. Later, the youthful MT tells her future husband that she wants more in life than just washing teacups, that she must make a difference in life. At the end of the movie, the elderly MT is seen--washing a teacup.

Yes, we must make a difference; and healthy ambition to do so is a necessity. But we will also have to "wash teacups" in life, and there is value and meaning in that mundane aspect also. In the end, when all was said and done, MT was left with what she at first wanted to flee. There is a lesson here worth finding on your own.

3. Classism:  The curse of Britain is its class snobbery--the movie portrays the absurd and irrational disdain of the elite toward MT's being the daughter of a grocer. I recall a young academic friend about two years ago who expressed resentment at the class system of her native England--it's still a reality. In the U.S., we have come a long way. What a shame that many are foolish enough to still practice elite snobbery even here in America.

4. Hubris: One definition of hubris is taking one of our good traits too far. The decisive and fearless rhetoric of MT was legendary and rightly so among so many political mediocrities. The movie depicts when it goes too far: when she browbeats her colleagues, especially one in particular, in a cabinet meeting. We need to hold in check even what makes us extraordinary. A good rule of thumb for self-control is this: never browbeat anyone. We are never "that right" about anything.

All in all, it is a remarkable movie about a remarkable and courageous life with many profound themes about life in general, well beyond political themes, which are appropriately secondary in importance.

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