Made in Dagenham (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 7, 2011 by Dennis Amith
An inspirational film featuring a wonderful performance by Sally Hawkins and Miranda Richardson. Definitely recommended!
Images courtesy of © 2010 Dagenham Girls Limited, The British Broadcasting Corporation and UK Film Council. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Made in Dagenham
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010
DURATION: 113 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SDH, English and Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (For Language and Brief Sexuality)
RELEASE DATE: March 29, 2011
Directed by Nigel Cole
Screenplay by William Ivory
Producer: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley
Executive Producer: Tim Haslam
Laurie Borg as Line Producer
Music by David Arnold
Cinematography by John de Borman
Edited by Michael Parker
Casting by Lucy Bevan
Production Design by Andrew McAlpine
Art Direction by Grant Armstrong, Ben Smith
Set Decoration by Anna Lynch-Robinson
Sally Hawkins as Rita O’Grady
Andrea Riseborough as Brenda
Jaime Winstone as Sandra
Lorraine Stanley as Monica
Nicola Duffet as Eileen
Geralding James as Connie
Bob Hoskins as Albert Passingham
Matthew Aubrey as Brian
Daniel Mays as Eddie O’Grady
Roger Lloyd-Pack as George
Phil Cornwell as Dave
Karen Seacombe as Marge
Thomas Arnold as Martin
Sian Scott as Sharon O’Grady
Robbie Kay as Graham O’Grady
Andrew Lincoln as Mr. Clarke
Rosamund Pike as Lisa Hopkins
Joseph Mawle as Gordon
Ruert Graves as Peter Hopkins
Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle
From the director of Calendar Girls comes this extraordinary story based on true events. Dagenham, England 1968. At the town’s local Ford automobile plant, Rita O’Grady (Golden Globe® winner Sally Hawkins) is one of only 187 women in a workforce of 55,000 men. Facing overwhelming opposition in this “man’s world,” Rita rallies her female co-workers to fight for equal pay — a stand that defies the corporate status quo, threatens her marriage, and ultimately exacts a tragic toll. But with the support of the shop’s steward (Golden Globe® winner Bob Hoskins) and the government’s Employment Secretary (two-time Golden Globe® winner Miranda Richardson), the women become the sensation of the nation — and the catalyst for a profound turning point in time.
In 1968, a group of women who were sewing machinists at the Ford Motor Company Limited’s Dagenham assembly plant in Essex walked out on their jobs to protest their jobs which were graded at Category B (less-skilled production jobs) versus a Category C (more skilled production jobs). But what upset them was the fact that the men who were at the same category, would receive more pay than the women (which was normal at that time).
These women would made car seat covers would halt production of Ford automobiles and essentially setting up a showdown which would eventually pave the way for the “Equal Pay Act 1970” and became the first legislation in the UK that would end pay discrimination between men and women.
The strike would be made into a film adaptation by William Ivory (“American Women”, “The Invisibles”) and directed by Nigel Cole (“Calendar Girls”, “A Lot Like Love). The film would star Sally Hawkins (“Happy-Go-Lucky”, “Never Let Me Go”, “Layer Cake”), Andrea Riseborough (“Happy-Go-Lucky”, “Never Let Me Go”), Jaime Winstone (“Kidulthood”, “Donkey Punch”), Miranda Richardson (“Harry Potter” films, “Sleepy Hollow”, “Empire of the Sun”), Bob Hoskins (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”,”Hook”, “Brazil”), Daniel Mays (“The Bank Job”, “Atonement”), Rosamund Pike (“Pride & Prejudice”, “Die Another Day”, “Surrogates”) and Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”, “Speed”).
The film was well-received by film critics and the film would be nominated for four British Academy Awards including “Outstanding British Film” and “Best Supporting Actress” (Miranda Richardson).
While loosely-based on the events that transpired back in 1968, the film would add a character of Rita O’Grady (played by Sally Hawkins) as the voice and leader of the protesting women.
The film begins with the women’s supervisor Albert (played by Bob Hoskins) giving the women the bad news about the regrading of their jobs and how they would be earning 15% less than the men who have the same grade. The women know this is unfair and want Ford to know how unfair it is, so they choose Rita as their leader.
The women all band together and leave their jobs to go on strike and protest and eventually gaining a strong media following. But when Ford realizes these women are protesting for real, the automaker is not going to back down because that would mean increasing wages for women all over the world and fears that it would hurt the company financially. So, Ford appoints Robert Tooley (played by Richard Schiff) to get the job done and put pressure on the Unions in the UK to fix the problem.
Meanwhile, because of days turning into weeks of protests, the Ford plant has no choice but to halt production of their cars and lay off the workers. Many who are husbands of the women on strike.
For Rita’s husband, Eddie (played by Daniel Mays), he is supportive of his wife’s cause but at the same time, knowing how it’s starting to affect the men and their livelihoods, including theirs. While other men who were once friends with Sally, begin to show their anger because they have no money to pay the bills and for some, the fear of no money drives them into severe depression.
Meanwhile, the women’s efforts are noticed by the Secretary of State Barbara Castle (played by Miranda Richardson), one of the most powerful figures of the Labor Party in the UK who supports the women in their crusade for equal rights, equal pay.
But when Ford plays hardball and sends a threat to the Secretary of State saying they can take their business to another country, and the Secretary of State knowing full well that Ford is one of the largest employers in the UK, what choice will she make? Ford also plays hardball with the automobile union as they try to dig dirt on those behind the unions, who are supportive of the women’s fight for equal pay.
Meanwhile, the women and their husbands begin hitting major road bumps as they face uncertainty with no spending money and wonder how long this strike can continue. Through all the suffering and personal challenges that the women face, including what is happening in the life of Rita O’Grady, how much longer will she be able to hold out and fight for equal rights, equal pay? And will she continue to have the women’s support if the strike drags on even longer”
“Made in Dagenham” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). A lot of the film is shot outdoors and thus, the film has its fair share of vibrancy. Also, good color combination for the costume design helps in making the film quite vibrant. Skin tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep, for the most part, there is good amount of detail in “Made in Dagenham” and good costume and makeup design in order to make this period-piece feel like it’s taking place back in the late ’60s.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Made in Dagenham” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film with occasional music from that time period playing in the background. So, this is a front and center channel driven lossless soundtrack which is clear and understandable. You do get crowd ambiance as there are many times where the women are gathered and you hear them chitchatting in the background or at union meetings and hearing the various sounds in the back. But this is the extent of the surround channels as this is not an action-film nor a film that utilizes a lot of sound effects.
It’s straight-up dialogue and the lossless soundtrack fits this film.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and Spanish.
“Made in Dagenham” comes with the following special features in standard definition:
- Commentary with Director Nigel Cole – Audio commentary by director Nigel Cole who discusses the strike, comparisons with the film, location shots and working with the talent.
- The Making of Made in Dagenham – (13:22) Director Nigel Cole, Producer Stephen Wooley and the cast talk about the strike, its impact on society, the characters and the making of the film.
- Outtakes – (2:17) Bloopers from “Made in Dagenham”.
- Deleted Scenes – (7:32) A total of eight deleted scenes.
- Trailer – (2:18) The trailer for “Made in Dagenham”.
“Made in Dagenham” is an inspiring film giving us an idea of what took place back in 1968 with the women who went on strike against Ford and eventually help pave the way for the “Equal Pay Act 1970”.
This is a straightforward film in which one should not expect any suspense but it does show us that the strike was not easy for the women, their families and the struggles they had to go through in order to make the politicians understand what they were trying to accomplish.
Business-wise, I found it intriguing to see how far Ford went in order to combat the women and high-level politicians as the automobile maker did have significant power at that time. While Ford Motor Company has since overcome that negative stigma and is one of the prime positive examples of a corporation working together with its employees today, back then, the American-based corporation would really push hard against the Secretary of State Barbara Castle and from what I have been reading, this is one powerful woman not to cross, so seeing the two clash was quite intriguing.
As for the story of the women, I’m guessing that the film was much more dramatized to achieve an efficacy of the women’s struggles and how their husbands were affected. While actress Sally Hawkin’s character did not exist in reality, I was interested to see how much of the story and reality actually did happen. The film does showcase clips from that time period and try to mix it up with the film but I wonder how many families were deeply affected when the plant shut down temporarily. Did men really hit rock bottom and some or one, tried to kill themselves?
In reality, the strike lasted about three weeks but because of the intervention of Secretary of State, Barbara Castle, a deal was met to increase the women’s pay to 8% below that of men (so, instead of a 100% equal pay, they received 92%) and eventually the women would receive an upgrade to Category B.
But the legacy of this strike was how it led to an Equal Pay act and also would lead to the founding of the NJACCWER (National Joint Action Campaign Committee for Women’s Equal Rights) and would lead to other countries following a similar lead in having men and women earn equal pay. (Note: The problem still exists today in many countries, so equal rights and equal pay is still an issue)
As for the film, no it’s not another “Norma Rae” nor is it another “Silkwood”, if anything, despite the challenges that the women face, you know that when you get an amazing but cheerful actress like Sally Hawkins, you expect something cheerful (albeit much different from her character role in “Happy-Go-Lucky”). There are a number of well-acted performances from Hawkins, Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson to name a few.
As for the Blu-ray release, you get a few special features and a good audio commentary track. Picture quality and sound quality were very good for this film.
If anything, for a period-piece that deals with a strike that made a statement at that time, it would have been nice to see an inclusion of a special feature or even a documentary with the real women who were involved in the strike. To hear their words, especially if they had any comments or impression of the film.
Overall, as many people who work blue collar jobs are facing problems in the industry, having to deal with worker’s rights and whatever problematic situation that has arise from the slump of the worldwide economy, it’s good to have an inspirational film to show viewers that a group of women, underdogs to a major corporation, did something about their problem, stood up to their rights and achieved success. “Made in Dagenham” is a film worth seeing.
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