Brassed Off

Director: Mark Herman
Screenwriters: Mark Herman

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Using a delightful amalgamation of music, class struggle, and a Yorkshire mining town, British director Mark Herman has combined seemingly disparate elements to create a charming, extremely touching drama about a somewhat alien milieu. A description of the plot is wholly inadequate to convey the intelligence, emotional power, and spirit of Brassed Off.

The mining pit of Grimley is facing closure by the government, threatening the livelihood of most of the community’s denizens. Given the choice between a substantial onetime payment or a strike by the union, most of the miners loudly and vociferously proclaim their solidarity with their labor heritage. In the midst of the turmoil, the town’s brass band continues to practice for the upcoming competition, the opportunity to play at Prince Albert Hall, a century-old tradition. But morale is low, and some players are planning to quit. And the band’s musical director and conductor Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) is oblivious. Suffering from black lung disease, he sees only the band’s tradition and its impossible dream. His son Phil is in dire straits, his wife and kids are about to leave, and he’s deeply in debt, but Danny cares only about the band.

Then Danny’s hopes are given a tremendous boost with the arrival of the talented Gloria, her flugelhorn under her arm, who becomes the only woman in the previously all-male entourage. Fellow band member Ewan MacGregor is especially attracted, but can their romance survive class war? Will the band persevere? With a resounding and grand style, Brassed Off is a captivating and engaging journey that reminds us all of the sweeping and elevating power of the arts.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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