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Excellent feminist movie: Made in Dagenham

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I just rewatched the 2010 movie Made in Dagenham. It's even better than I remembered it: feminist, laugh-out-loud funny, occasionally very sad; good writing, good actors (including Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson), good stuff about gender and about class and about unions. Highly recommended.

But most people I mention it to have never heard of it; I had never heard of it before Stephanie introduced me to it in 2011. So in case you haven't heard of it and the above description isn't enough to get you to watch it, here's a bit more:

The movie is a fictionalized version of a true story. In real life, in 1968, Ford had a car factory in Dagenham, England, that employed tens of thousands of men and 187 women. The women worked sewing car seat covers. At the time, there were three classifications for men's jobs: unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled. Ford reclassified the women into the unskilled category—and they were paid only about 85% of what the unskilled men were paid. [Side note: I may have some details wrong in this paragraph; different sources disagree.] And so the women protested.

The results of that protest are historically significant, but before I saw the movie I was unaware of that history, so for anyone like me, I'm going to refrain from saying what happened next. If you don't mind spoilers for the movie, or if you just want to learn about the history, you can read the relevant Wikipedia article and a writeup by one of the women who participated, but if you're the sort of person who cares about spoilers, I recommend watching the movie before following those links.

I should note that not everyone loved the movie; in particular, most of the reviewers listed on Rotten Tomatoes say (essentially) that it's good but formulaic. I disagree that it's formulaic, but it may just be that it's a formula that I like. My own main criticism, to the extent that I have one, is that some aspects of it are a little too pat and a little oversimplified. And the protagonist, Rita, is fictional, which arguably does a disservice to the real women who were involved. (Some of them appear in brief clips during the closing credits.) And I imagine that if your political sympathies aren't with the women from the start, you probably won't enjoy the movie at all.

It also has some minor historical inaccuracies, and the passage of time is a little unclear, and it obscures the fact that in real life, one of the women's major goals wasn't achieved until another labor action in 1984.

But all of those things are minor as far as I'm concerned. I liked this movie a lot the first time I saw it, and I loved it this time. It's probably the most feminist movie of the 75+ movies I've seen this year, and possibly my favorite of them as well.

Except now I've gone and oversold it. So perhaps I should tone that down, and just say: I liked this movie, and I recommend it.

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