It’s 20 years since the release of Mark Herman’s tale of the Grimley Colliery band. Karen Campbell wonders if it’s more relevant than ever.
What and why: I have to say, as a northerner, this film has a special place in my heart. It evokes happiness, sadness and anger and, in the current climate, watching it again was poignantly lovely but desperately sad.
Brassed Off tells the story of the fictional Grimley Colliery band, led by the dedicated Danny (the amazing Pete Postlethwaite), in a Yorkshire town on the edge of despair with the news of its local pit being threatened with closure.
What unfolds is a story of survival, camaraderie and music, all with a huge helping of Yorkshire humour at its core.
The film focuses on Andy (Ewan McGregor) and Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald), his old school flame who rocks back into town, flugelhorn in hand, and promptly sets Andy’s heart-a-flutter. But when it transpires Gloria is actually back to do a study on the pit that could assist in its closure, things turn sour.
The band, playing throughout their woes and hardships at the insistence of Danny, have a chance to play in a town championship and maybe at the finals (you guessed it!) and Danny is not going to let anything stand in their way. His son Phil (the brilliant Stephen Tompkinson) wants to quit but is so fearful of letting his father down he keeps his sorrows to himself – even taking a job as a clown but getting sacked after going on an anti-Thatcher rant at a children’s party.
Rated or dated: Based on the true story of the Grimethorpe Colliery band, this really does hit home in its depiction of the aftermath of Thatcher’s Britain and the divide that, to this day, this country experiences. The shame that was associated with taking voluntary redundancy and the sheer desperation, loss and meaningless waste of these men and these northern towns.
Despite the subject matter, Brassed Off lifts you thanks to its ultimate star: the music. I defy anybody not to be moved by a full brass band playing Danny Boy. The film culminates at the Royal Albert Hall with the band winning the final and Danny giving the speech of his life when giving their trophy back.
“A fortnight ago, this band’s pit were closed – another thousand men lost their jobs. And that’s not all they lost. Most of them lost the will to win a while ago. A few of them even lost the will to fight.”
Moving and poignant, for me Brassed Off is especially resonant in the current climate, especially with the lack of understanding over why a lot of us were so sad about the Brexit vote. RATED
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Karen Campbell is a life coach at www.your-dreamcatcher.com. She likes gin, James McAvoy and pretending she's not from Scunthorpe.