The first indicator they had some support was when they put out a call for an “Embrace the Base” protest, a “crazy, audacious idea,” with enough women to encircle the entire facility. This was long before social media, before cell phones. But they got the word out and 35,000 women linked hands and surrounded the base. And then they had another crazy, audacious idea: “I think we should go to Russia.” It was risky for them and riskier for the women’s group in the USSR that was calling for disarmament. But as the world leaders, especially Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, were using extreme rhetoric about the USSR and the Doomsday Clock was getting closer to midnight, the Greenham Common women “took a more nuanced view.”
They had that nuanced view for almost 20 years, during the missiles’ arrival and after they were removed and the land was returned to the community. There will be a memorial to the Women’s Peace Camp.
Dame Glenda Jackson, a two-time Oscar-winning actress and former Member of Parliament, provides the film’s fine, sometimes stirring, narration. But it’s the voices of the women themselves, in some archival footage and contemporary interviews, that are the heart of the film. Their voices are steady as they recall challenges from camping out to arrests and police brutality to the wrenching decision to leave the care of their children to others as they fight for a world where those children can grow up safely. They speak about the way defying expectations by working for change in the world opened up new ways to change in their own lives.
However, some re-creations in the documentary range between superfluous and distracting; they do not come close to the simple dignity and immeasurable courage of the women.
There are dozens of small, illuminating details and some surprising guest appearances in the film, especially over the end credits, when the Peace Camp is tied to today’s protests by people like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg. “Mothers of the Revolution” reminds us to value all those whose dedication and courage is too seldom recognized.
Now available on digital platforms.