Leaving Los Angeles: Louisa Buck on Mike Figgis's Battle of Orgreave. (Film)

By Buck, Louisa | Artforum International, January 2002 | Go to article overview

Leaving Los Angeles: Louisa Buck on Mike Figgis's Battle of Orgreave. (Film)


Buck, Louisa, Artforum International


JUNE 17, 2001. In a muddy field in the north of England near a giant slag heap, British film director Mike Figgis is engulfed in a crowd of picketers who are slugging it out with massed ranks of bobbies in full riot gear. As the protesters hurl themselves against a wall of Plexiglas shields, only to be driven back by mounted police brandishing batons, Figgis dodges missiles and blows and keeps on filming. The conflict shifts to the nearby village of Orgreave, and the intrepid auteur is still there in the thick of it, clutching his Steadicam. The acclaimed director of 1995's Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas and the split-screen, digital art-house hit Timecode (2000) has relocated from Hollywood to this remote and unprepossessing spot to shoot British artist Jeremy Deller's reenactment of the Battle of Orgreave," one of the most painful and momentous episodes in Britain's recent history.

It was in Orgreave, almost exactly seventeen years earlier (on June 18, 1984), that some five thousand striking coal miners clashed with--and were savagely routed by--a force of nearly eight thousand riot police outside the South Yorkshire village's coking plant. The Battle of Orgreave, as the events of that day were quickly dubbed, marked a pivotal moment in the bitter dispute between Margaret Thatcher's Tory government and Arthur Scargill's National Union of Miners (NUM). Ostensibly, the miners were striking to save their communities and livelihood from Thatcher's draconian program of mass pit closures. But both sides were well aware that Orgreave was just one part of a carefully planned campaign to break trade union power and introduce market forces into Britain's state-owned industries. And the campaign succeeded.

Last summer's rerun of the Battle of Orgreave--commissioned by the art agency Artangel--forms the core of Figgis's film of the same name, which premiered at the London Film Festival in November and will soon air on the UK's Channel 4. Using a straightforward documentary format-no split screens or Hollywood FX here--Figgis spliced footage of Deller's scaled-down version of the original conflict with a mixture of archival material and, most crucially, firsthand accounts by Orgreave veterans who also participated in the performance. Figgis adeptly demonstrates how Deller's project acted as a poultice to draw out individual and collective memories of an episode that, despite its enormous social and economic consequences, has now largely been buried amid a welter of misinformation. (It even emerges that the BBC reversed the sequence of its news footage to present the miners throwing stones and the police charging in response, when in fact the police instigated the violence.

Deller's Battle of Orgreave was more than playacting. Although the event was orchestrated by Britain's leading reenactment expert, Howard Giles, and involved enthusiasts from more than twelve historical societies more accustomed to assuming the roles of Roundheads and Cavaliers, over a third of those taking part in the reenactment were volunteers who had been involved in the original conflict, both miners and policemen. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Leaving Los Angeles: Louisa Buck on Mike Figgis's Battle of Orgreave. (Film)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.