Brassed Off – written and directed by Mark Herman – takes a look at the plight of the British coal miner. Once, mining was a thriving industry in England, with whole towns built around each mine.
But, during the early 1980s, the Tory government began converting the country to nuclear power. The resulting drop in demand devastated the coal industry, with hundreds of pits being closed and a quarter of a million miners made redundant.
Grimley Colliery – which employs more than 1000 miners – has been targeted for closure, but to sweeten the bitter taste for the workers, a healthy severance package has been offered. Still, there are those who are willing to fight to the end, believing that no amount of money can make up for the damage that Grimley’s closure will bring.
Among the most vocal of the anti- closing brigade are Andy (Ewan McGregor), a brash, young miner whose lungs are still relatively clean, and Phil (Stephen Tompkinson), a family man who is deep in debt and needs his job to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, Phil’s father, Danny (Pete Postlethwaite, pictured at left), wants the mine to stay open for a different reason. He’s the conductor of the Grimley Colliery Brass Band (in fact, it’s his life), and, if the mine closes, the band will come to an end.
Several members of the band are in fact considering tendering their resignations to Danny when a pretty young flugelhorn player, Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald), arrives in town and asks to sit in on the practice sessions.
The plot itself is littered with familiar feel-good elements: the big competition, the critical illness of a key character, and the redemption of someone who’s viewed as a betrayer.