The Iron Lady

Movie: Directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

Inciting Event: A young Margaret Roberts (later to be Thatcher) learns she has been accepted into Oxford.

The structural narrative of this film occurs in the “flashback” section, detailing Margaret’s life and rise to Prime Minister. However, we also get a nicely timed turning point in the present-day framing story (in which an elderly Margaret is struggling with dementia) when her daughter arrives for a visit.

From here on, the framing device largely fades out to make way for the main plotline in the first half.

First Plot Point: After losing her first election for Parliament, Margaret agrees to marry Dennis Thatcher—especially after he slants the proposal to indicate that her marriage to a “moderately successful businessman” would enhance her political chances. This is the Key Event. She then is promptly elected to Parliament—the First Plot Point and her entry into the Adventure World of the main conflict.

First Plot Point: During a period of pervasive labor strikes, Margaret decides to run for Leader of the Party—just to shake things up. Her family resists, her husband leaving for a long stay in South Africa. But she is soon convinced she might even be able to be elected Prime Minister. Shortly before her election, her campaign manager is killed in an IRA attack.

Midpoint: Margaret becomes Prime Minister and enters her new residence at 10 Downing Street.

In the present-day timeline, she shares a Moment of Truth with her doctor, insisting thoughts shape destiny.

Second Pinch Point: As violence and resistance to her economic reforms grows, Margaret and Dennis barely escape a hotel bombing.

Third Plot Point: After victoriously reclaiming the Falkland Islands (which is not, literally, of course a “false victory,” but still functions as the triumphant beat before the low moment), Margaret has a meltdown in a meeting and alienates her political allies.

Climax: Margaret is voted out as Prime Minister. The memory of this event acts as the catalyst, in the modern section of the plot, for her finally gaining the determination to pack up her dead husband’s things in an effort to “banish” the hallucinations she is having of him.

Climactic Moment: Her hallucination of Dennis finally walks away, promising she will be all right.

Resolution: Margaret’s daughter returns (a nice payoff of her earlier presence in the First Act, even though she is not a crucial part of the plot) to help her dress for the presentation of her portrait at the Prime Minister’s residence.

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