BRASSED OFF

UK, 1996 (MIFF 1997)

Director: Mark Herman

It's hard to believe that one of the year's most charming and entertaining films is set in the mining town of Grimley, Yorkshire, in 1992. But writer/director Mark Herman has fashioned one of the great surprises of this year.

When a small mining town is threatened by the closure of its chief industry, the people are faced not only with the imminent threat to their livelihood but with a struggle for personal and musical survival. Against this tense social back­drop, Brassed Off reflects the spirit and struggles of the community, through members of the local colliery brass band.

Although morale is low and some of the members are planning to quit, Danny (Pete Postlethwaite, Romeo & Juliet, In the Name of the Father), the band's Musical Director and Conduc­tor, spurs them on with his unrelenting determi­nation to make the finals of the national brass band competition to be staged at the Albert Hall. Confidence is boosted when the young, attractive and talented Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald, Sirens) sweeps in with her flugelhorn...and the ability to hold a note.

Her chances of joining the all-male ensemble are enhanced when it's discovered that she's the recently returned granddaughter of a former band leader. But tension flares when band member Andy (Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting) recognises her not only as his childhood sweet­heart but as an employee of the dreaded British Coal Board.

Can the Grimley Colliery Brass Band triumph or will retrenchments, the prospect of long term unemployment and financial ruin overcome the players physically and emotionally? Or will they simply speculate on what could have been?

Brassed Off is a delightful film that charts an incredibly touching and amusing journey with not only tenderness but skill and intelligence. As Rossini's William Tell Overture looms larger than you could ever imagine, we are reminded of the strength to be drawn from music and the arts.


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