There is no shortage of vocal regressives today demonizing homosexuals and labor unions (among other groups who have faced police beatings and tear gas). That is why a film like Pride is so relevant. Progress takes initiative, and most people are afraid to take that step. The film follows the true story of the little talked about British Miners’ Strike of 1984 (just as the Pullman Strike of the late 19th century and a number of other strikes are little discussed) and a group that called themselves Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. They were a group who saw a kinship in the way the miners were being treated by Margaret Thatcher and the police and decided to raise money to help the miners and their families.
The group’s efforts are met with resistance on both sides. Gay people are reluctant because the miners haven’t come to their aid. At the end of the film, there is a paragraph that states they had been the voice of dissent in the Labor party working to add gay rights to their party platform. Gay men were also concerned with the spread of aids, which the general public still believed was a gay related disease in 1984. Many were also nervous about going to the small mining towns as people in small towns have never had a reputation for being friendly toward the gay community, who were frequent victims to acts of violence even in larger cities.
While many of the miners in the labor union had no problem with gay people, some were concerned about public relations, as 20,000 jobs were at stake. Other miners held bigoted views. When members of the two groups meet, most of them see the humanity in each other and are able to work together. Their efforts are led by Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) on the LGSM side and Dai Donovan (Paddy Considine) on the Miners’ side. Each leader is the person to make ‘first contact’ with the other side that leads to a lot of progress.
The film does a great job of having an ensemble cast full of distinctive, relevant characters. Bill Nighy plays a man who quietly supports the efforts of LGSM. He loses his normal speech pattern for the role. Imelda Staunton Hefina Headon, a board member and organizer of the union determined to bridge the gap between the miners and the LGSM members. She gets a miner who is afraid he’ll give the “wrong impression” if it interacts with the gay men too much to get over himself and make an effort to mingle; convinces a Welsh member of LGSM (Andrew Scott), who had left his hometown years earlier because of estrangement from his religious mother to reconcile with her; and takes on a regressive board member determined to resort to dishonest means to end the cooperation between the miners and the members of LGSM. George McKay plays a 20 year old gay student who works to keep his sexual preference from his strict religious family who has to bear it silently when they make homophobic comments, but remains and earnest supporter of the miners and the efforts of the LGSM. There is also Jessica Dunning, who plays real life Welsh Labor Party Parliament member. She is depicted in the film as the person who convinces the strikers’ board to invite the members of LGSM to their village of Onllwyn in Wales and becomes quite active in the efforts of the movement throughout the film. Dominic West plays Jonathan Blake, one of the first men in the UK to get infected with HIV and an active member of LGSM who teaches a few of the small town miner to dance so they can impress women. Faye Marsay potrays the only female founding member of LGSM, who is no pushover.
Pride is a solid film about actual, historic events. The pacing is never too fast, nor too slow. The emotional moments, whether they are comedic or dramatic are done just right. This film would make a great Blu-ray purchase, if it contains a documentary on the back story of the actual events. It is the sort of film people can watch over and over again and still enjoy. It also encourages people to think and it has a good message about helping others in need whether they’ve been helpful in the past or not. Someone has to make the first move.