Technological upgrades often have human consequences. Certainly they did at Rotherham and nearby Templeborough, where this fine and unusual film was made. At Steel, Peech and Tozer, part of the United Steel Companies empire, the game-changing replacement of 21 old-fashioned open hearths by six electric arc furnaces represented a big engineering challenge - and an even bigger industrial relations one.
Project Spear, shot at intervals over a five-year period, is the story of how those challenges were met. It incorporates the comments of both managers and union officials into its summary of the delicate consultation process. These rather televisual sequences are interwoven with more purely cinematic ones which, in the best tradition of steel filmmaking, capture both the proficiency and the sheer spectacle of the industry's production processes, old and new. The film naturally reflects the managerial point of view of its sponsor, a somewhat self-congratulatory United Steel. But all the same it's a mature, reasonably balanced and impressively lucid account of a complex and sensitive project - and a true melding of industrial with social documentary.