30 years after the events it depicts, Pride is an inspiring film about the importance of solidarity and courage to fight for justice in our world


Pride (2014)

Di­rect­ed by Matthew Warchus. Writ­ten by Matthew Warchus. Star­ring Ben Schnet­zer, George MacK­ay, Joe Gilgun, Faye Marsay, Do­minic West, An­drew Scott, Fred­die Fox, Imel­da Staunton, Jes­si­ca Gun­ning, Liz White, Bill Nighy, Lisa Pal­frey, Pad­dy Con­si­dine, Rho­dri Meilir, So­phie Evans, Ka­ri­na Fer­nan­dez, Jessie Cave, Kyle Rees, Rus­sell Tovey and Mon­i­ca Dolan.

In March 1984, British min­ers went on a ma­jor lengthy strike as an at­tempt to pre­vent the shut­down of coal mines in the UK, and their ac­tion, ruled as il­le­gal, was met with strong op­po­si­tion by the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatch­er. It was then that a group of les­bian and gay ac­tivists in Lon­don de­cid­ed to cre­ate a cam­paign called “Les­bians and Gays Sup­port the Min­ers” in or­der to raise mon­ey for the fam­i­lies af­fect­ed by the strike — a self­less move that showed the im­por­tance of sol­i­dar­i­ty when you’re up against a gov­ern­ment that doesn’t care about mi­nori­ties and only sees them as a bur­den in the way of their own interests.

Writ­ten by Stephen Beres­ford and di­rect­ed by Tony Award-win­ning play­wright Matthew Warchus, Pride chron­i­cles the real-life ef­forts of Mark Ash­ton (Ben Schnet­zer) and oth­er gay rights ac­tivists who be­lieved they should join hands with those in need to fight a com­mon en­e­my, es­pe­cial­ly if the en­e­my in ques­tion is the gov­ern­ment. De­spite their good in­ten­tions, Mark and the oth­ers soon re­al­ize they must deal not only with the union’s re­fusal to ac­cept their sup­port but also the hos­til­i­ty of ho­mo­pho­bic min­ers when they de­cide to by­pass the union and go in per­son to a min­ing vil­lage in South Wales to give the do­na­tions di­rect­ly to them.

Aware that gays and the min­ers are both ha­rassed by the po­lice, pub­lic and tabloid press, Mark sym­pa­thizes with the work­ers’ plight, even though it is un­der­stand­able why most gays refuse to join his cam­paign out of re­sent­ment for the min­ers’ ho­mo­pho­bia. Those who stay col­lect do­na­tions in buck­ets, risk­ing to be beat­en in the street, and when Mark ad­dress­es the min­ers for the first time, we can see how aw­ful it must be to speak to a group of peo­ple who think of you as a per­vert — es­pe­cial­ly when you have noth­ing to gain from help­ing them. “You’re the first gays I’ve ever met in my life,” a min­er says to Mark, which he could be say­ing to an alien.

But if some peo­ple in the town re­act with hos­til­i­ty or in­tim­i­da­tion to­wards Mark and his friends, oth­ers see them al­most as a cu­ri­ous at­trac­tion, which leads to a se­ries of hi­lar­i­ous mo­ments — and if there’s some­thing that Pride nails so well is its de­li­cious sense of hu­mor, ris­ing most­ly from the ob­vi­ous cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences be­tween these two very con­trast­ing groups of peo­ple. This in­cludes, for in­stance, a price­less scene in which an old lady wants to con­firm a ru­mor about all les­bians be­ing veg­e­tar­i­ans, or a mo­ment lat­er on when the women of the min­ers’ town have a blast in a gay club in Lon­don among men in rubber.

An­oth­er high­light in Pride is the film’s nu­anced char­ac­ters, many of whom have their own per­son­al con­flicts. While Mark is por­trayed as a good-heart­ed ide­al­ist that doesn’t want to give up eas­i­ly and at a cer­tain point be­gins to fear that he may be in­fect­ed with HIV (the grow­ing aware­ness about AIDS in the 1980s is also ex­plored in the movie), the young (and fic­tion­al) stu­dent Joe “Brom­ley” (George MacK­ay) is still dis­cov­er­ing his own ho­mo­sex­u­al­i­ty and sees this new ex­pe­ri­ence as a per­son­al lib­er­a­tion that he must hide from his con­ser­v­a­tive family.

Oth­er in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters in­clude the fun­ny Steph (Faye Marsay), the cyn­i­cal Jonathan (Do­minic West), one of the very first men di­ag­nosed as HIV pos­i­tive, and his car­ing boyfriend Geth­in (An­drew Scott), a Welsh man es­tranged from his re­li­gious moth­er. The movie also avoids mak­ing Bromley’s moth­er a car­i­ca­ture (she does have her rea­sons for try­ing to pro­tect her son) or show­ing the wid­ow Mau­reen (Lisa Pal­trey) as a bit­ter one-di­men­sion­al vil­lain, rec­og­niz­ing that, de­spite her ac­tions, she is a re­spect­ed and hard-work­ing woman in her community.

With an awe­some sound­track full of British songs from the 1980s, in­clud­ing The Smiths, Queen, Dead or Alive and Ya­zoo, Pride is a re­fresh­ing film that un­der­stands how things are con­nect­ed in our world, which is per­fect­ly il­lus­trat­ed when Mark says to a gay jour­nal­ist that “min­ers dig for coal, which pro­duces pow­er, which al­lows gay peo­ple like you to dance to Ba­na­nara­ma till 3 o’­clock in the morn­ing.” And if we care about oth­er people’s prob­lems like our own, there will cer­tain­ly be peo­ple out there car­ing about ours too.


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