We started the fire: The British films which defined the Thatcher era

Baroness Margaret Thatcher died today, leaving a controversial legacy which divided a nation during her time as the first female Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. The entire decade of the Eighties was under her umbrella of relentless leadership with an iron fist, making generational enemies who still feel the affects of her policies today.

British film in the Eighties could be depicted as being the second tide of the British New Wave which first gained prominence in the Sixties. Beginning with the optimism of Chariots of Fire (1981) which heralded a new recognition of British film on the world stage, it was twinned with the opening years of Thatcher’s premiership in office. By the time we come to The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), Peter Greenaway’s film can be read broadly as a lavish and unsettling satire of Thatcherism and the evils of the decade’s excesses.

Here are a list of just some of the films which attempt to capture the mood of the 1980s:

The Long Good Friday (1980) Dir: John Mackenzie









Chariots of Fire (1981) Dir: Hugh Hudson










Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) Dir: Alan Parker










Local Hero (1983) Dir: Bill Forsyth










Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) Dir: Terry Jones










My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) Dir: Stephen Frears










A Room with a View (1985) Dir: James Ivory










Brazil (1985) Dir: Terry Gilliam










Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1987) Dir: Alan Clarke










The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) Dir: Peter Greenaway



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