Will Thatcher-In-Decline Movie Actually Cause a Pro-Thatcher Backlash?

The forthcoming Meryl Streep movie The Iron Lady about former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was quickly slammed by Thatcherites as a "Granny going mad" flick, but it might cause a backlash against Hollywood leftists. On Wednesday's Washington Journal on C-SPAN, historian Amanda Foreman, author of a recent Newsweek cover story on Thatcher, said Americans might not be comfortable with the film, which might play like a film of Ronald Reagan's descent into Alzheimer's disease.

Near the end of the interview, she admitted the film has "prompted a massive rethink" on the Thatcher legacy, that she wasn't this "out-of-control Sherman tank," but a "great feminist pioneer" and "she ended the Cold War," which Foreman confessed she had forgotten:

PETER SLEN, host: Have you seen the upcoming movie? If so, what are your comments?

AMANDA FOREMAN: Well, I have seen the upcoming movie, and I’ve never seen such an extraordinary performance as Meryl Streep gives of Lady Thatcher. It’s absolutely preternatural how she got her voice and bearing, and it’s great fun to watch because of that. Whether or not people in this country will feel all that comfortable watching the decline of Thatcher – the film does make quite a lot of the,  Thatcher in her current state, suffering from mental decline. And if you want to turn that around and have a film about Reagan shuffling around in his pajamas, looking unshaven in his ranch house, I’m not sure that would go down all that well.

SLEN: What’s the current opinion of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain? What’s the current mood about her?

FOREMAN: The current opinion. Well, I think that the film actually has prompted a massive rethink of Lady Thatcher. That most people, I think, shared my opinion, that it was someone who had been in power 20 years ago that she was a big towering figure, but was like an out-of-control Sherman tank, and was bossy, and loud, and seemed to create more discontent than anything else. And this film has reminded us that she was also a great feminist pioneer who changed the face of the world in terms of what it was possible for women to achieve, and that she ended the Cold War. And those are two things, that I know I somehow managed to forget.

In August, London’s Daily Mail reported on a screening of the forthcoming Meryl Streep film The Iron Lady about Margaret Thatcher: “At the end of the film, Lady Thatcher walks around her home in a feverish state, driven mad by nightmares about her record in office.”

“Friends of Margaret Thatcher last night expressed their revulsion,” reported the Mail, saying the film “shows her having nightmares about the miners' strike and the Falklands War, while her late husband Denis appears as a ghost in a pink turban raging at her ‘insufferable’ selfishness.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis