Theatrical director Matthew Warchus has taken a brilliant script from TV actor Stephen Beresford (The Bill) that was inspired by a remarkable true story.
We are taken back to Britain in 1984. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and the miners were facing incredibly harsh mine closures which threatened to cost an excessive number of jobs.
The result was a massive walkout when the socialistic Mineworkers Union resisted the policies that would close down the mines and cause massive unemployment. It was then that the miners were surprised to receive support from a group who were also feeling targeted by Thatcher’s Tories: the gay community.
Led by activist Mark Ashton (played by outstanding newcomer Ben Schnetzer who almost takes the show) the group called themselves LGSM –Lesbians and Gays Supporting the Miners. It was a bond that would lead the Union to later be active in changing the Labor Party platform to support gay rights.
Ashton and his friends, including Mike Jackson (Joseph Gilgin), fiery lesbian Steph Chambers (Faye Marsay), Gethin (Andrew Scott) and his flamboyant partner Jonathon (Dominic West) raised money for those out of work but the Union was hesitant to accept donations from a group they felt may damage their cause.
With their offer declined, the LGSM climbed into their big red bus and drove to Wales, where they found a willing ally in the small Welsh mining town of Onllwyn. Initially welcomed somewhat cautiously, they bond with grateful union rep Dai Donovan (Paddy Constatine) and other local leaders including the dynamic Hefina Headson (Imelda Staunton), half ditzy Gwen (Menna Trussler), the quiet Union secretary Cliff (the always reliable Bill Nighy), and one of the miners wives, Sian James (Jessica Gunning). (The real Sian James went on after the strike to get her degree and win election in Parliament).
This unusual, quite unexpected alliance between miners and their gay supporters makes Pride one of the most moving and inspirational movies I can remember seeing in a very long time. It doesn’t ignore the fact that the miner’s strike ended in defeat, but it reminds us that barriers can tumble and pride can remain when people support each other.
We see this in the final scenes when the next Gay Pride March suddenly saw a massive increase in participants -yes, all the miners marching in support! It’s almost impossible not to feel a tear coming!
Reviewed by Kirstey Whicker
Rating out of 10: 9