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Nigel Cole
Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Andrea Riseborough, Jaime Winstone, Lorraine Stanley, Nicola Duffett, Geraldine James
Writing Credits:
William Ivory

1968. It's a man's world. But not for long ...

Based on the true story of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination and fought for equal pay.

Box Office:
$7.2 million.
Opening Weekend
$37.563 thousand on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross
$1.052 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 3/29/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Nigel Cole
• “The Making of Made in Dagenham” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Made In Dagenham [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 22, 2011)

With 2010’s Made in Dagenham, we get a period look at the women’s rights movement. Set in a London suburb circa 1968, we meet the workers at the local Ford Motor plant, the fourth-biggest car factory in the world. Women comprise a significant portion of the workforce, as they sew fabrics for use in the vehicles.

These workers don’t get much respect from the suits, and shop steward Albert (Bob Hoskins) notifies the ladies that they must take action in the form of a threatened work stoppage. They unanimously agree to this and set into place a potential confrontation with their employers.

The tactic seems to work, as it prompts a meeting with the Big Bosses at Ford. When Albert needs another representative of the workers to along, they choose Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), a married mother of two who struggles to pay the bills. She’s told to simply nod and smile during the meeting, but when their nominal leader Monty Taylor (Kenneth Cranham) fails to do much to further their cause, Rita can’t hold her tongue. She immediately threatens to take the ladies on strike if management doesn’t meet their demands.

And that’s what happens. The women go on strike and aim for regrading as semi-skilled workers, but Albert tells Rita that their classification isn’t the issue: it’s the fact that women are always allowed to be paid less than men. Albert encourages Rita to escalate the battle to another level and push the point of equal pay for equal work.

Based on the trailers, I expected Dagenham to be little more than a British rehash of Norma Rae. And the two are fairly similar, though Dagenham comes based on real events, while Norma was a work of fiction.

Norma also had a stronger political thrust behind it, mainly due to the circumstances of the period. Back in 1979, the battle for women’s rights remained a hot button issue, with the Equal Rights Amendment a major topic of controversy. In that context, Norma Rae had to be seen as an attempt to influence public policy.

The same doesn’t seem to be true for Dagenham, which is much less likely to stir public debate. No, I don’t pretend that the battle for equality doesn’t still exist, but it’s simply not the same major cause it was 30 to 40 years ago.

This means that while Dagenham makes some important points, it exists more to remind us of progress than to push ahead. It’s a period piece that aims to let us know what helped prod the cause in the Sixties. That’s a good thing, as Dagenham offers a valuable history lesson; it simply lacks the timeliness and the fervor of Norma Rae.

Which can make it seem a little staid and quaint. You won’t find much about Dagenham that allows it to break out of its particular mold. It focuses on its cause and treats things in a fairly black and white manner, so it follows a well-worn path.

If you go into the film with an idea of the route it’ll follow, you can literally check plot points off of a list. Eddie turns on Rita? Check. One of the women flirts with being a scab? Check. The bosses send in the heavier hitter to break the union? Check.

In truth, there’s nothing wrong with this framework; it’s well established because it makes sense for a film like Dagenham. However, it does mean that the movie adheres so tightly to its defined roles that it feels a bit stifling.

This also means that you won’t find any particularly vivid characters, and they tend to fall into the “men bad, women good” domain. That’s not totally true, of course; Albert is always totally on the side of right and justice, and Eddie is nice ‘n’ tolerant until push eventually comes to shove. Nonetheless, “men bad” is a pretty solid rule, as the vast majority of the male characters seem narrow-minded and condescending at best, cruel and vindictive at worst.

As for the women, not a single one comes across as anything more than Pretty Darned Terrific. Some would argue that self-absorbed fashion model wannabe Sandra (Jaime Winstone) delivers a less than wonderful female character, and they’d be right, but the movie doesn’t really make her as bad as it should. She’s more young and naïve than genuinely flawed; even though the film flirts with the notion that she’s lazy and incompetent, it can’t veer from its “women good” framework to treat her as anything other than cute and loveable.

Still, even with the many predictable elements, Dagenham boasts merit simply because the story itself is so good. The fact that the tale derives from real events – and seems to do so reasonably faithfully – adds definite heft; we become even more invested in the women’s fates since we know that they actually went through this period.

The actors all deliver the goods as well. Dagenham comes with a solid cast, and they do their best to invest their limited characters with personality. They can’t quite make them more than the archetypes the script dictates, but they try, and they contribute life to the tale.

At its core, those performances and the natural value of the film’s story carry Dagenham. I think it’s too traditional and predictable, as it lacks real nuance. Nonetheless, it tells an important story and does so in a manner that makes it eminently watchable.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Made in Dagenham appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer looked good but not quite great.

Sharpness became the main – though minor – problem. While the majority of the flick displayed good clarity and accuracy, occasional shots appeared a bit on the soft side. Those weren’t a big concern, but I did think the movie tended to be a little less defined than expected.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. No signs of source flaws emerged. From start to finish, the movie provided a clean presentation.

Like virtually all period pieces, Dagenham went with a stylized palette. It was less golden than most, though, as it instead favored a kind of pea-green look. Within those parameters, the colors looked fine, as they still managed to manifest some reasonably full hues. Blacks appeared deep and dense, and low-light shots presented nice clarity. The occasional softness made this a “B” transfer, but it was still more than satisfactory.

Though I didn’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it provided a pretty immersive affair. The film used different settings well; it created a nice sense of the din in the factory, and other elements like thunderstorms broadened the mix in a positive manner. These used the surrounds in a satisfying way, and music also demonstrated nice stereo information. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio created a better than anticipated surround track.

Sound quality was more than acceptable. Dialogue could be difficult to understand, but that stemmed more from thick accents than the recordings themselves; the lines seemed natural enough. Music was lively and warm, while effects demonstrated good accuracy and heft. Though nothing here truly impressed, the mix was pretty positive.

We get a few extras to fill out the set. First comes an audio commentary from director Nigel Cole. He offers a running, screen-specific look at research and facts behind the story, sets and locations, cast, characters and performances, music, period details and production design, camerawork and visuals effects, editing, and some other production notes.

My only complaint here relates to the amount of dead air, as Cole fades a little too often, especially during the film’s first half. Otherwise, he offers a good look at his film. Cole digs into a nice variety of elements and delivers a useful examination of the subjects.

The Making of Made in Dagenham runs 13 minutes, 21 seconds and includes notes from Cole, producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, and actors Sally Hawkins, Geraldine James, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Bob Hoskins, Andrea Riseborough, and Jaime Winstone. We learn about the film’s origins and development, story, historical background and characters, cast and performances, Cole’s impact on the production, and themes. We few decent notes emerge here, but most of the program concentrates on promotion, so it doesn’t give us much.

Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 32 seconds. We get “Factory Floor” (0:49), “Rita After Work” (0:24), “Rita Buys a Magazine” (0:40), “George’s Medicine” (1:05), “Rita Talks It Over With Eddie” (2:11), “Hopkins and Tooley” (0:31), “Barbara Castle Rearranges Furniture” (0:43), and “Barbara Castle Brings News” (1:09). With only one clip that lasts more than 69 seconds, you shouldn’t expect much meat here. Of these short pieces, “Medicine” is probably the most valuable, just because it helps reinforce a minor plot line; the final film does little to develop the Connie/George subject, so this extra tidbit would’ve made it more effective.

Otherwise, the brief scenes tend to be pretty superfluous; they don’t add anything much to what we already know. “Talks” is a decent addition, as it helps show the potential strife between Rita and husband Eddie. It’s not crucial, but it does contribute a bit more to that thread, especially since it hints that Eddie’s support of Rita’s cause might not be especially deep.

Next comes a collection of Outtakes. It goes for two minutes, 17 seconds and provides a fairly standard package of goof-ups. We do get a few alternate lines for one scene, but otherwise it’s nothing unusual.

The disc opens with ads for Barney’s Version, The Illusionist, Another Year and Inside Job . These also appear under Previews. The trailer for Dagenham also shows up here.

With a strong historical tale behind it, Made in Dagenham provides a reasonably enjoyable film. It can be awfully predictable and one-dimensional, but the basic story keeps it going, and the actors deliver enough charm to abet it. The Blu-ray comes with pretty good picture and audio as well as some interesting supplements. Dagenham isn’t a classic civil rights drama, but it’s a likable enough one.

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