Christopher Shea on how 'The Iron Lady' made Margaret Thatcher apolitical

February 3, 2012

Two of the movies vying for awards attention this season have been biopics: The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and J. Edgar, starring Leonardo Dicaprio as former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

There's a connection between these films, argues TimeOut's Christopher Shea, and it's more than their genre. Of The Iron Lady he writes: "There's something odd afoot, when a movie that is entirely about seismic shifts in gender politics somehow gains the reputation of being entirely apolitical."

Read an excerpt or listen below:

In a recent appearance on The ViewIron Lady director Phyllida Lloyd and her just-nominated majesty Meryl Streep explained the politics of the film to the ladies of the show. Prompted by hostess Sheri Shepard's confident assertion that the film is not political, but a love story, Lloyd affirmed in England, there are two ways of looking at former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the subject of the film: "There's the monster she-devil who ruined the lives of millions, or there's the blessed St. Margaret who saved Britain from it's post-war decline...and we just wanted to tell a different story from woman's point of view," the story of being a lower-class girl in a party of posh boys.

Proving once again her ability to appear chameleon-like into a role, Streep nodded along, looking interested, and at one point added, "I tell my daughters the world was really, really different then. Women were teachers, nurses, not politicians."

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