Meryl Streep was “all dressed up with nowhere to go” in her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, wrote Roger Ebert in his review of the film, “The Iron Lady” last year. Yet Streep would win the Academy Award, perhaps because of her “uncanny impersonation” of the woman who was elected to three terms as Britain’s first female prime minister.
Ebert, whose funeral is Monday, criticized director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan for creating a biopic that failed to offer “an opinion” about its subject. All they manage to convey is that “she was a fact,” Ebert stated. They offered no point of view about Thatcher’s actions during her 11 1/2 years as Prime Minister.
Yet it’s obvious in his review that Ebert had his own opinions of Thatcher, and they weren’t necessarily favorable, particularly regarding the Falklands War, for which Thatcher sacrificed the lives of troops just so “there was one small spot of foreign soil that…would be forever British.”
Ebert recalls witnessing the power that was Lady Thatcher during a meeting of the International Advisory Panel of Conrad Black’s Hollinger corporation when he owned the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. Thatcher, along with such government officials as Henry Kissinger, and other “officeholders, pundits and academics from around the world” were gathered together but it was clear that Thatcher dominated the room.
Ebert’s description is poetic: “Invisible psychic threads of respect and yearning extended toward her from the men,” he wrote. “When she spoke, they fell silent….It was the most remarkable display of personal authority I have ever seen.”
Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.