Sunday, August 2, 2015

Film Fest Day 10: The Enemy Within


A tense, thriller-like documentary about the 1984-1985 miner's strike in the UK, The Enemy Within is a terrifying look at how an industrial dispute turned into a pitched battle between the National Union of Mine Workers and Margaret Thatcher's government.

If you like the Iron Lady, you are not going to like this. Based around interviews with key figures in the strike, it gives an immersive ground-level view of the strike from the miner's perspective. This is the film's greatest strength and its most obvious weakness. A fiery, passionate text, it feels like an inversion of She's Beautiful When She's Angry in that it deals with the inner workings of a mass protest action, except that it shows the ways in which the National Union of Mine Workers was failed by other unions, the media, and the police in their stand against the government.

The failure of the strike remains a major political fissure in Britain, and The Enemy Within mounts a stirring defence of the men and women who fought to maintain their jobs and communities. My only complaint is that it did not provide outside observers to provide more context for the mine closures. Thatcher's rhetoric and tactics during the strike are pretty deplorable, but it would have made it more compelling for me if there had been a few historians and economists included to provide more data and analysis. We are only given the miner's perspective, and I left the film curious about the broader history leading up to and following the strike.

Still, it's worth a look.

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