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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
The Battle of Orgreave

"The Battle of Orgreave" - film director Mike Figgis and artist Jeremy Deller have recreated this emotive period of British history for television.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
A rather odd project, as if the television programmes, Panorama and Arena collaborated.

NITIN SAWHNEY:
I thought it was very powerful and strong, partially because I like documentaries that don't have a narrator. It was good that it was told from the perspective of participants.

At first, I was surprised by the omission of Arthur Scargill, but then I realised it was good film making, told from the perspective of those people who took part in the day.

Tony Benn summed it up in terms of the hypocrisy of the time and the lies.

I felt a kind of sense of almost reliving the kind of anger that I felt at the time, the policy of the Government then. Particularly in terms of the no U-turns idea and the enemy within, all of that coming from Margaret Thatcher.

It kind of was a powerful documentary for me. It made me rethink a lot of the time.

MARK LAWSON:
We talked about it as a documentary, clearly it is. Yet it has a Hollywood film maker involved, Mike Figgis. It has an artist involved, Jeremy Deller. Is it art, journalism?

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
I thought it was completely uncategorisable, having part-time bank managers and miners re-enacting this thing. It is curious TV.

I long for a Jimmy McGovern repeat of the Battle of Orgreave.

I thought the policeman talking at the end, when he said he had been minor, and he gave up being a miner and he became a cop because he wanted to serve his community with the help of Margaret Thatcher, he ended up destroying it.

I thought the end, the bitterness, saying, "if you're watching, drop dead Mrs Thatcher". It was strong. It would be good to re visit that community.

I felt the thing was riveting but in a slightly strange way. You watch what looks like tremendous kind of brutality, yet you know it is being sanitised.

MARK LAWSON:
Sanitised, but isn't it also fantastically one- sided. Tony Benn keeps popping up and saying I met this person here and they told me this, but we never hear the other side of this.

GERMAINE GREER:
I had lots of problems with it. First of all, I was upset that the situation was presented as a battle.

That was people who like to re-enact battles. What do they think is so good about battles. They're inconclusive. People get hurt.

It had nothing to do with the defeat of the miners' strike. They didn't lose a war at Orgreave. They had lost the war before they got there, and for lots of reasons, including their own inability to understand the general position of the British worker.

They were elite workers, brought in by one man who said it should have been workers united.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
They were saying it was a mistake in the film. They were looking back and reflecting that had they been workers united they would have been

GERMAINE GREER:
Ultimately, we didn't know how they got to Orgreave.. We kept seeing the same events.

I have a suspicion that the time taken by the re-enactment was much shorter, I'm sure it is right. I've been on demonstrations myself and I've seen police throwing stones to start the violence.

You can't watch something like that without some proper analysis. There wasn't any. I would also argue that the number of people who originally participated, present in the re-enactment, was very few. Remember how quick the shot was?

MARK LAWSON:
It seemed to me that in the end it was just a visual pun, where the art comes from Jeremy Deller. He is saying that this is the English civil war, that is all it comes down to.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
It is insulting to call this thing that happened recently an art form.

You can say they've lost the fight before, but Orgreave was important in bringing Mrs Thatcher to be able to say, "this is the enemy within, we will never have a democracy whilst we have these violent people there to manipulate the media."

There were masses of interesting things that should have come out of that that were just touched on.. You felt that you were grasping towards it and you wanted more.

NITIN SAWHNEY:
The whole documentary was much more about catharsis than revolution. If you look at it as something to resolve what happened at the time, you can feel the anger of the participants.


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