Author(s): Chris M.
"The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher"
A Miramax Film
Produced by: Noel Pearson
Written and Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Cinematography by: John Toll
Editing by: Mike Hill
Art / Set Direction by: Stuart Craig
Costumes by: Gabriella Pescucci
Makeup by: Christine Blundell
Sound by: David Macmillan
Original Score by: John Barry
Original Music by: Duncan Sheik
Christian Bale (Patrick Magee)
Cillian Murphy (Liam Sullivan)
Miranda Richardson (Margaret Thatcher)
Brenda Fricker (Siobhan Sullivan)
Jaime Bell (Cade Sullivan)
Micael Gambon (Sir Denis Thatcher)
Richard Griffiths (Sir Anthony George Berry)
Stephen Fry (Sir Donald Maclean)
Imelda Staunton (Queen Elizabeth)
Tagline: "Will History repeat itself?"
Synopsis: June 28th, 1984, it’s been seventy years since the most spectacular assassination in modern European history; the shooting of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo; which was undoubtedly the immediate cause of the First World War. Front page headlines remembering the historic day catch Belfast ship builder Patrick Magee’s attention, and he soon becomes infatuated with the Archduke’s assassination. Magee, a member of the Irish Republican Army concocts a plan that will capture the world’s attention; he will kill the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and members of her Cabinet. Magee believed there would be such disgust over the murders that the British public would force their leaders to pull out of Northern Ireland.
Patrick Magee enlisted the help of his pub acquaintance, Liam Sullivan, a local welder who holds similar nationalist views as Magee. Liam has been involved in the IRA since his childhood. His parents were killed in Belfast by British troops in 1968; Liam vowed to avenge his parent’s death. As a result of his parents premature death, Liam and his brother Cade were sent to live with their grandmother, Siobhan, a respected woman in the community, who promised herself that she would make honest men out of her grandsons and give them the life their parents couldn’t. Cade is attending the local university with aspirations to be in Parliament someday. Cade is not like Liam, he doesn’t hold the extreme nationalist sentiments of his brother. When he learns of the plan, he tries to intervene, but its too late Liam is gone.
October, 1984; Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is in Brighton England for the annual Conservative Party Conference; she and her cabinet members strategize for the upcoming elections. It’s a crucial week for Thatcher; she is attempting to put together a new agenda with her advisors Sir Anthony George Berry and Sir Donald Maclean that lives up to her nickname “Britain’s Iron Lady” and continue to work with the dissemination of democracy in the Soviet Union. Patrick Magee and Liam Sullivan get at room at the Grand Hotel in Brighton where Thatcher is staying. Patrick plants the bomb near the Prime Ministers room, but to his astonishment, Thatcher and her husband Sir Denis escape injury; five people died in the attack including prominent members of the Cabinet. Thatcher insisted that the conference open on time the next day and made her impassioned speech “The scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now — shocked, but composed and determined — is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.” Thatcher’s defiance of the bombers, won her widespread approval across the political spectrum, and adoration from around the world.
Patrick, unharmed fled to Turkey to escape persecution. Liam on the other hand met his untimely death. Patrick was eventually caught and received eight life sentences: seven for offenses relating to the Brighton bombing, and the eighth for a separate bombing conspiracy in Turkey.
What the Press would say:“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” Kenneth Branagh’s latest film tells the fictionalized account of the 1984 Irish Republican Army bombing assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This is simultaneously the most conventional and the most opaque of Branagh’s films, and arguably the most effective to date. Branagh’s film works with such piercing fervor and intelligence, centering the film almost entirely in small scenes of personal conflict. Branagh seamlessly incorporated actual news footage of the bombing to secure the realism of this dramatization. This is the film Kenneth Branagh will be remembered for. He will surely be recognized for his rousing cinematic achievement, in the Directors and Original Screenplay categories.
Christian Bale’s powerful performance as the lead conspirator of the assassination attempt, Patrick Magee fuels “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”. Bale proves here once again that he is one of the most talented and interesting actors of his generation. Bale is the key to it all in a performance sure to be nominated for an Oscar, playing a troubled man who confuses his deep nationalism, as freedom fighting, and not terrorism. Christian Bale gives a truly masterful performance as Patrick Magee, built on suggestion, implication and understatement. Miranda Richardson gives a spellbinding performance as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a performance that dazzles so much that viewers will forget that they're watching Miranda Richardson. She presents an example of undetectable acting at its finest. The resemblance is not merely physical, but embodies the very nature of the “Iron Lady” we have grown up with; a private woman who takes her public role with great gravity. Richardson will most likely be nominated for the Academy Award for her career defining role.
Cillian Murphy, the up and coming actor continues to demonstrate his growth in his enthralling performance as Liam Sullivan, the coconspirator and accomplice in the 1984 bombing. Murphy delivers, as the revenge seeking Liam, whose goal in life it avenge the murder of his parents. Cillian exceeds in making a seemingly unsympathetic character, compassionate. He is the perfect balance to Christian Bale. Murphy delivers one of the strongest performances of the year. Academy Award winner, Brenda Fricker returns to screen, and gives a stirring performance as Liam's torn grandmother, Siobhan, a widowed schoolteacher trying to raise two grandsons. Siobhan despises the violent tactics employed by the IRA, and is shocked to learn that her oldest grandson is a member of the organization. “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” explores Siobhan's difficulties in coming to terms with Liam's beliefs and his actions. Fricker captivates the audience, as we watch her walk this precarious moral tightrope.
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For Your Consideration:
Best Picture: (Noel Pearson)
Best Director: (Kenneth Branagh)
Best Actor: (Christian Bale)
Best Supporting Actor: (Cillian Murphy)
Best Supporting Actress: (Brenda Fricker)
Best Supporting Actress: (Miranda Richardson)
Best Original Screenplay: (Kenneth Branagh)