Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep.

The lady, who at award shows always dresses like a house-Frau, and seems a little loopy and pretty boozy, is a bloody good actress. Oh, don't get me wrong, she looks like she is A LOT of fun. And then she does a movie ...

She was divine in The Iron Lady. I haven't seen all of the movies or actors that are nominated for this year, and probably won't by the time the Oscars air, but I know that she should win. She is transformative. In the opening scenes, knowing full well that she is playing Margaret Thatcher, I wondered ... is that really her? The make-up and hair person for her was phenomenal, but even without that, or she may need that, she is the character. She is the person. The last scene as she walks away from her husband's leaving toward eternity, she is exactly as an old woman would walk away from her life. Shoulders shifted forward, a shuffling of slippered feet, a shove of a chair squeezed by, and then on down the hall.

The movie itself played out like a news reel of sorts. I rather liked it. More than once, which I don't have habit of doing, I remarked to my friend who saw the movie with me. First there was the footage of old Thatcher give it to the unions ... hello Billy Elliott! Having seen the movie and stage musical of BE, I find that the musical captured the time much better than the movie. As the reel played, I expected to see Billy tap around the blockades and angry mobs of miners.

Then there was the war against Argentina over the Falklands. I don't remember much of that from real time, but it's there in a fuzzy kind of way. Of course more remarkably is that Prince William is there now, and poor Catherine must do without her man for 6 long weeks as he helicopters around.

The other story that really caught my attention was the time that Thatcher let the Irish political prisoners die in their hunger strike. They demanded to be treated as political prisoners, and not criminals. I began a poem in high school about this topic, and finished when I went to college. I was walking to the Student Center one day, and this big guy in his blue puffy coat that I always saw around, was holding up a sign, 'give Ireland back to the Irish.' I tried to imagine what that was all about without really having any knowledge of it. A few years ago, an excellent film was released, Hunger, which told the story of those prisoners and the leader in the strike, Bobby Sands. I remembered him especially from that time. The film is gruesome and captivating ... sublime.

Meryl made me think of this ....

Give Ireland Back to the Irish

a brightly coloured wrapper
on a deserted street
as the victim's profile
is fused
to the standing wall of a church.

a man lays motionless
in a guarded after-life
as black masked soldiers mourn,
more coloured wrappers.

mimicking his brothers,
a red freckled child
the splinters of colour
whirling in the smoky air.

a lonely man,
smiles lustfully
as he stands on a cement block,
a thousand miles away
holding a limp piece of cardboard reading,
'give Ireland back to the Irish.'


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