Image: Calamity Films
Britain’s history is a long one; full of a nationwide narcissism that has left all but 22 untouched by our desire to rule. Even now it can often feel like there’s little to be proud of. UKIP have gone from maligned underdog to serious contender (and then there’s the state of the “mainstream” political parties but let’s not get into that), the continued success of the Daily Mail, and the seemingly unending stream of prejudice that unearths itself from time to time.
This list, though truncated, does do the country a disservice, but unfortunately these are the things about which people usually shout the loudest, and so it becomes hard to feel genuine, unadulterated pride in our island nation. This is what made Pride so special for me. For the first time I can remember, I was proud to be from Great Britain.
Pride, a true story, is set in the 80s and follows a group of Lesbian and Gay activists in their attempts to support another group maligned under the late Margaret Thatcher; the miners. This coming together of the oppressed against the law, the media, and popular consensus has for me at least, reclaimed the concept of pride, at least in one’s nationality. Though gay pride still flourishes to this day, there is a sense that being proud solely of your nationality can only lead to harm, especially with the rise of current champions of UKIP.
Despite how much the story resonated with me it’s unlikely that had the film not involved the talents that it did it would have been nearly as effective. The film features wonderful performances (though I’m told not so wonderful Welsh accents) from every member of the cast. This is not surprising, as the ensemble represents the biggest who’s who of British acting since the Harry Potter films. Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy and Dominic West are among the veterans in the cast and are about as good as you expect them to be. The younger members of the cast also impress, particularly Ben Schnetzer’s Mark Ashton who managed to provoke through his performance on more than one occasion.
Watching the two disparate groups work through their differences and then go on to support each other through their shared plight is joyful and inspiring. From the very beginning of the film I was overcome by emotion, as everyone involved convincingly relayed the passion that drove those that inspired them. This of course is also down to Stephen Beresford’s script which for every joke, and every tragedy, never undermines the importance of the story being told.
Special mention to must be made for the film’s soundtrack. With a mixture of disco classics and traditional Welsh ballads, the music always serves to compliment the film that on one instance where someone starts to sing for no reason, this never felt emotionally manipulative. The disco in particular served as soundtrack to the film’s more rawly entertaining moments: Dominic West showing up all the men in a small Welsh village and Imelda Staunton getting down in a Gay club.
For all the joy the film inspired in me, to have watched it under the present circumstances was strange. Margaret Thatcher may be dead but one of her biggest public proponents is currently leading the country. And while Lesbian and Gay rights have improved, particularly with the oh-so- late legalisation of gay marriage, there is still a tragic amount of prejudice towards them in this country, and around the world.
The film ends with the cast reuniting for another march. Within the context of this story the fight is not over, and clearly, it is not over in reality either. To make a verdict now would be pre-emptive. What is certain is that I for one am proud to come from a country capable of producing the individuals the film is about and I am proud to come from a country where their story can be so lovingly told.