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Transcript: My favourite film — a British comedy
I’ve chosen The Full Monty, a film from 1997 about a group of steelworkers in Sheffield in the 1980s who have lost their jobs and try to make money as male strippers. Gaz, the main character, gets the idea when he sees a poster advertising the Chippendale dancers.
Men working as strippers? It’s probably the most embarrassingpeinlichembarrassing thing a northerner could do back then, and the fastest way to lose respect.
But sure enough, in this sexist world where men like to see women take their clothes off, the to turn the tablesden Spieß umdrehentables are turned. The jobless steelworkers are going to entertain women who live locally — in other words, women they actually know.
For their first performance, they offer to “go all the way” and take off absolutely everything — the “full monty” — or so they say. We follow the willthey-won’t-they story as they prepare for the big night. All is to revealenthüllenrevealed at the end. Am I talking about the plotHandlungplot, or do I mean naked northeners?
It’s a touching film and immensely funny, with laugh-out-loud scenes, like the one at the job centre, where the would-be (ifml.)Möchtegernwould-be strippers are in the dole (UK) (ifml.)Arbeitslosengelddole queue. Playing in the background is one of the songs from their routine. Without saying a word, they all start to practise their moves.
Or the scene where Gaz is outside the room in which his former boss, Gerald, is being interviewed for a job. Gaz sabotages the interview by putting on a silly puppet show at the window so that Gerald is unable to concentrate.
Gaz is infuriatingwütend machendinfuriating but also charming and, like the other strippers, basically lovable. And for once in his life, although nothing is certain, he doesn’t give up. All the men in the story to maturereifer werdenmature. But Gaz’s get-rich-quick plans for a striptease show also force some of the women to question their attitudeHaltung, Einstellungattitudes. And it’s Nathan, Gaz’s young son, who’s the first to become more tolerant.
So, is the story less Thatcherite than it seems? It takes place when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, advising the country to be entrepreneurialunternehmerischentrepreneurial and find new ways to earn a living when old ways fail. Which is exactly what the steelworkers are doing. But their success is helped by community solidarity — not a concept we associate with the Iron Lady.
Life changes for Gaz and his friends, but will these changes last? Maybe not for as long as for characters in some of the feel-good movies that followed The Full Monty, all showing how tough it is to fight against social prejudice: Billy Elliott, Bend It like Beckham, Pride or Kinky Boots.
The Full Monty feels like a short festival of confusion, where harsh reality is turned on its head for an evening of fun. This is thanks in no small part to Anne Dudley’s Oscar-winning scorehier: Filmmusikscore, which manages to make the scruffyschmuddelig, ungepflegtscruffy streets of 1980s Sheffield wonderfully atmospheric — and the amateur stripteasers amazingly sexy.
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