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Seraphim Seleznev
Seraphim Seleznev

Made In Dagenham



A film about the triumph of the underdog is not original, but done well and with heart, it's always affecting; MADE IN DAGENHAM is one such film. It feels authentic, has wonderful performances, and avoids sentimentality. Sally Hawkins sparkles in her role as "everywoman." The filmmakers have gathered an impressive array of supporting players, paid important attention to the detail of the period, and worked from a script that feels fresh even though the story can't help but be predictable. (Why would they have made this movie if Rita O'Grady and her followers had failed in their endeavor?)




Made in Dagenham



It's not like "Made in Dagenham" marks the first time a fascinating historical episode has been made into mediocre melodrama. Moviemakers have ransacked history since the medium was invented, but the combination too often results in bad movies and bad history. You can't even call "Made in Dagenham" bad -- it's a competent entertainment, built around an enjoyable performance by the superb English actress Sally Hawkins (Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky"). But it does manage to take a crucial turning point in feminist and labor history -- an event loaded with ambiguous significance -- and render it into one of those gang-of-gals movies full of bicycles, reggae songs, underwear shots and scenes of emotional growth. (Memo to producers: You can't use Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It if You Really Want" in your movie. You just can't. It is against the law.)


Andrea Riseborough and Jaime Winstone are among the feistier women at the plant, and Rosamund Pike plays a posh, educated woman whose marriage to a Ford executive (Rupert Graves) has turned her into a reluctant housewife but not made her lose her drive.


The English drama Made in Dagenham tells the true story of a significant 1968 strike of women's workers. If that is not a subject of interest to you already, it probably still won't be after watching this film. Numbering 187 and in charge of stitching seat upholstery, female machinists make up a small but integral part of the Ford automotive company's UK workforce. The Dagenham women's factory conditions are unpleasant and the pay is disproportionate. Every employee agrees with the plans of union organizer Albert Passingham (Bob Hoskins). Albert chooses Rita O'Grady (Happy-Go-Lucky's Sally Hawkins), an ordinary worker (and historical composite), to accompany him and represent the women on a visit to the higher-ups. When requests are not met, the machinists stage a one-day work stoppage. When they get a letter reprimanding their action, they begin an indefinite strike which soon holds severe consequences for Ford's car production and the company's male employees.The top demand is equal pay for the sexes, an idea that seems radical and unfeasible to Ford executives on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Determined and unified, the women elicit sympathy from a Cambridge-educated housewife (Rosamund Pike) of a Ford executive and even Secretary of State Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson). But not everyone is supportive of their decisions. Rita's critical involvement in the dispute bears heavily on her husband (Daniel Mays), who struggles to take care of their two kids. Meanwhile, fellow female rally leader Connie (Geraldine James) is given pause by the depression the strike causes her war veteran husband (Roger Lloyd-Pack). Made in Dagenham is a laborious movie. Its story seems to be one worth telling. The screenplay, the second theatrical feature of TV actor/writer William Ivory, has some decent ideas and exchanges. The acting from the accomplished mostly British cast is prudent. But the whole thing is direly inert and uneventful. Once the premise is established, the film stalls, dealing imagined conversations among the women and their families that only reiterate what is already known. Genuine conflict is kept to a minimum. Characters are short on distinctive personality. I would hope that, despite the compositing and usual fictionalization claims, Ivory's script remains faithful to the facts because there is simply nothing inventive enough here to bother making up (besides that the heroines were fit and fashionable).A fair amount of blame must be placed on director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls), who returns to England after helming a couple of American films (one of them Ashton Kutcher's A Lot Like Love). Cole just doesn't infuse the proceedings with any energy or weight. It doesn't help that the issue in question, so improbable some forty years ago, now seems not to require the slightest bit of deliberation. Not that equality exists and sexism doesn't today. It just feels like an odd time and place to dramatize and immortalize historical social activism.The shortcomings would be less objectionable if this was made for television, as it kind of feels it should have been (despite the cinematically seasoned talent). That is not meant to marginalize the real event or to disparage the well-intentioned efforts to translate them. There just isn't the ambition and power there should be from a $7 million picture being sent to theaters around the globe.Performing modestly in the UK and other European territories where it is still rolling out, Made in Dagenham was barely a blip on the American scene, where it garnered few award nominations despite its fall timing, overwhelmingly favorable reviews, and well-realized period design. This Sony Pictures Classics release takes another stab at American attention when it comes to DVD and Blu-ray this week.


MADE IN DAGENHAM is a truly inspirational film on what one person--woman--can do when one really cares about an issue and has a group backing them. The film is based on the true-story fight for equal pay by Ford female machinists in the late 1960s starring Sally Hawkins as Rita O'Grady, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, and Rosamund Pike.The film did not portray Rita as a natural public speaker who loves the limelight. We see her hesitancy and nervousness throughout, but because of her passion and caring for the female machinists and women in general she is able to move people and make a difference. We see in one of the first scenes with Rita and the Ford managers she argues firmly, but simply that increasing their pay to that of skilled workers is not that hard a concept to grasp.It was great to get to see the parallel of Rita O'Grady's fight for equal pay at work and how it affected her home life and the subsequent breakdown of her marriage as her husband, Daniel Mays, eventually lost his job at the Ford factory (the women's strike turned out to be quite powerful after all). He had to take up parenting and housework which was not only a disaster, but left him a bit confused as to his new role as well. (If he wasn't the breadwinner, what was he?) Pressure on Rita only increased-- as the male-dominated union went against her when Ford shut down the whole factory in hoping to use divide and conquer to break the women's strike.Ultimately, Rita O'Grady interrupted a big union meeting of an all-male audience and won their crucial support in the fight against Ford. They had traveled across the country by then and eventually the First Secretary of State, Barbara Castle (played by Miranda Richardson) agreed to see them-- without the Prime Minister's permission and even though Ford had threatened to pull their factories. Two years later the Equal Pay Act of 1970 came into effect.Watching the film made me wish we had more films that revealed the amazing stories that women have achieved but rarely brought to light, and certainly not usually by Hollywood. Thanks to screenwriter, William Ivory, and director, Nigel Cole, and the producers, Stephen Wooley and Elizabeth Karlsen, more people will now know those women's stories and achievements.As other reviewers mentioned it did not feel like a preachy film on the history of women's rights. It was truly entertaining and dramatic made by true filmmakers. At the same time, it was a great experience watching it and knowing that it was a true story-- that working-class women laid their jobs, and truly everything, on the line because they knew they were worth it. It was a good reminder that sexism is not all that complex. We want equal pay for equal labor. Period. Even now, women are still getting paid 77 cents to men's dollar. Maybe we should start another strike. ***Shiuan Butler is a writer, blogger, activist and author of Manifesto for Young Asian Women, where she shares heartfelt advice from her personal experiences to help empower young women and girls. She's passionate about surfing and presently works at the feminist speakers' agency, Soapbox, Inc.www.shiuanbutler.comClick below to e-mail this article to a friend or to post a link on your favorite sites. Thank you!var addthis_pub="4a168ebc456e15e0"; home what's new resources ask amy news activism anti-violence events marketplace about us e-mail us join our mailing list


This show - with its slick, catchy tunes by David Arnold, Richard Thomas's droll, mischievous lyrics and a positively gag-infested book by Richard Bean - infectiously demonstrates that it's a saga well worth making a song and dance about... Unfolding on Bunny Christie's ingeniously adaptable air-fix set, Rupert Goold's bouncy production sweeps you between moods that range from Ready Steady Go!-meets-The Rag Trade to the heartfelt, galvanising climaxes to each act... Gemma Arterton can't disguise the natural glamour that is rather anomalous for the main part of Rita O'Grady... The trouble with the piece is that any serious emotion has insufficient breathing space... There's an overloading of humour, the breadth of which is sometimes more notable than its bite or pertinence... Sophie-Louise Dann's "fiery-haired" Barbara Castle (for it is she) has more than a lewd touch of late... the uneven but captivating Made in Dagenham is a West End musical you can be pleased to acknowledge was "made in Britain". 041b061a72


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