8 November 2011 | timdalton007
Margaret Thatcher, the UK's longest serving post World War II Prime Minister, a major player on the world stage during that time and a figure who still is a source of controversy more than thirty years after being elected. In 1990 her tenure as Prime Minister came to an end when her own party replaced her. The 2009 BBC film Margaret tells the story of her last days in power, how it came about and how her greatest strengths brought her down.
The film's greatest strength is Lindsay Duncan as Thatcher. Her performance is nothing short of excellent as she plays Thatcher as a politician at the height of power who fails to realize until it is too late that her day has gone. Duncan doesn't capture Thatcher's famous voice but she nevertheless gives an excellent performance throughout be it the tough woman fighting to get elected in the film's flashbacks or in the scenes towards the end of the film when she becomes painfully aware of what everyone around her has known throughout that her time has come and gone. Duncan is the life and soul of the film and you never forget it for a moment.
Backing Duncan is a fine supporting cast. They range from Ian McDiarmid as Denis Thatcher, James Fox as Charles Powell, Rupert Vansittart as Peter Morrison, Margaret as Cranley Onslow, Michael Cochrane as Alan Clark, John Sessions as Geoffrey Howe and Michael Maloney as future Prime Minister John Major. Together they form the figures around Thatcher both trying to save and bring to an end to her.
The film's production values are as of high a quality as the cast. Of particular note is the cinematography of David Odd which gives the film a strong sense of reality by giving the viewer the sense of being a fly on the wall at times into a world of power and shadows, where Thatcher looks constantly into mirrors in an attempt to see what is going on in her own mind and it makes the viewer feel like an intruder almost into this world. David Roger's sets also go a long way to giving the film that sense of realism as well from the days of Thatcher's campaign to the House of Commons to 10 Downing Street itself. The result is a film that oddly gives the sense, despite being fiction, of a glimpse into the behind the scenes world of British politics in November 1990.
Last but not least of course is the script by Richard Cottan. At the beginning of the film, there is a disclaimer that reads: "Whilst this film is based on real public events, most of the dialogue and many of the scenes are the invention of the author." That is certainly the case, let there be no doubt. What Cottan does then is make the film into a portrait of Thatcher, "the iron lady", and how what made her the powerful politician she was brought her down. Thatcher is portrayed as someone who strove to change the Conservative Party of the mid to late 1970s, someone who wasn't taken seriously by those she sought to replace and yet falling victim to the very same thing fifteen years later. The most incredible thing is how she doesn't seem to realize it, clings to the belief until it brings her down. As a result, Cottan creates not a docudrama but a drama that uses an historical event and Thatcher in particular to tell a story as old as politics itself: the powerful leader who becomes so separated from reality it destroys them.
Margaret is an excellent film detailing the final days of Margaret Thatcher's time as UK Prime Minister. From the excellent performance of Lindsay Duncan as Thatcher through the supporting cast, production values and the script from writer Richard Cottan, the film is a fine piece of drama. It also stands as a warning to those who grasp at power as it teaches the oldest lesson of all: power doesn't last forever.