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Carry Greenham Home (1983)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

12 December 1982. 30,000 women surround the US army base at Greenham Common, which is being used to store nuclear warheads. Women sing songs and dance. There are black and white stills of the perimeter protests, with women tying ribbons and photographs of their families to the fence in front of army personnel. A woman reads out a newspaper report of the protest to a crowd of women peace activists. Later, women are dragged away by police during a sit-in blockade of the base.

There is the monotony of peace camp life, which contrasts dramatically with the protest sequence. Women gather wood, tend the fire, struggle in the mud, and live in droopy, collapsing tents. By contrast, the police are anonymous, powerful and aloof.

Weeks after the 12 December protest, a group of women break into the base on New Year's Day. In the distance, they are outlined on the top of a hill as they dance in a circle and sing.

Back in the camp the women organise themselves, holding meetings and discussing how to move ahead collectively. At the same time, there are signs of systems breaking down; the camp's chequebook is lost and there is some infighting.

The women who broke into the camp on New Year's Day are arrested, and are due to stand trial. Police try to hand out legal summonses to the peace activists. At the courthouse, women supporters surround the building, make announcements, sing songs, and are selected in turn to observe the trial.

A female television journalist tries to record her report against the background of noise and action. She asks the crowd politely to quieten down, but loses her temper when one dreadlocked peace activist cartwheels behind her. Eventually the journalist and the activists talk and resolve their differences.

Following the trial, the relationship between the peace activists and the police becomes much more strained. Both sides indulge in malicious behaviour. Groups of women surround individual policemen and sing 'Which Side Are You On?' in their faces, refusing to allow them to turn away or escape. Meanwhile, the authorities retaliate by increasing the police presence at the base.

The cat-and-mouse game continues when a group of women immobilise the front gates with a simple bicycle lock. The police are unable to remove the lock and end up kicking down their own property - to derisive cheers and laughter from the women.

The atmosphere of the peace camp is tense. Police intervention is at an all time high during an Easter weekend protest in which women enter the base in fancy dress for a picnic. As they dance around and hand out cups of tea, police run to arrest them and military helicopters circulate in the air above.

The increased police surveillance, harassment and stress has its effect on the women on the camp. Tempers fray at meetings and the group begins to fragment into smaller factions. But the camp has taken on a life of its own, as a baby is born in a tent.

Eventually, bailiffs arrive to dismantle the camp, causing distress, rage and chaos amongst the women. Peace protesters drag away their belongings forlornly but leave behind the biggest peace banner in the world, sewn together by thousands of supporters from all over the world. The struggle goes on.