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Made in Dagenham

Images of Britain

Look through these stills from Made in Dagenham (click to enlarge) and, with a partner, discuss the questions below:

In pairs, talk through the following questions about your understanding of the terms 'British' and 'Britishness'.

Five women at the forefront of a protest march across a bridge.  They look happy and are singing or chanting.  They are carrying banners reading: ‘RIGHTS. Fair pay!  Equal!  Fair pay and grading’.  The women are wearing 1960s style clothes such as miniskirts and hotpants.

Rita stands smiling at the centre of the image wearing a beige trench coat and holding a folder. Three other women strikers accompany her and we can see all the women’s faces looking very happy.  Male reporters surround them and have their backs to the audience. Over their heads are two boom mikes and behind the women stand two uniformed police officers.

A man in a navy boiler suit stands on the left of the image and looks at a workmate in dungarees standing next to him.  The men are looking at each other with expressions suggesting they share an irritation or annoyance about something.  In the foreground to the right is part of a car door; to the left are painted blue iron girders.  There hanging flourescent lights behind them and blurred in the background are stacked large brown boxes.

  1. What symbols and icons of Britishness can you spot in these images?
  2. What values and attitudes of the characters appear to be represented by these images? Are these traditionally British?
  3. Historic achievements in the fight for equal pay are being celebrated by Made in Dagenham. What message is the film sending about the British people involved? Who do you think this message is intended for?
  4. The Commission for Racial Equality's research into Britishness found that for some participants 'the British were exclusively associated with white English people'. To what extent is this interpretation of Britishness represented in these images from Made in Dagenham? How do you account for this?
  5. The film is set in 1968 when the Trade Union Movement in Britain was strong. To what extent do these stills suggest Made in Dagenham is a film about working people and their struggle for equality? How is this similar or different from other British films you have seen?
  6. From these stills, what other representations of Britishness might you expect to see in the film? What representations of Britishness do you think might be missing from the film?