DIRECTOR: JIM SHERIDAN
MUSIC: Elmer Bernstein
CAST: Richard Harris, Tom Berenger
ONE WORD: Richard Harris is worthy of his Oscar nomination.
This is one of those films that is worth seeing, yet, it is a somewhat unpleasant film to sit through.
It is about the ethnocentric ways, we all, as a society tend to have, specially when it is for a defensive reason, even if it is justified, which for the most part in this film, it isn't.
Caught in a bit of pride, and loss of pride, a staunch Irish man, decides to prevent an American business man ( Tom Berenger ) from buying the land they have owned for so many generations, which has been a source of nurture and pride for at least that long. Most of the town folk, have made a decision to get the money ( it's a fortune, which they have never seen ) and let the outsider come in, until an old, proud Irish man who had worked the lands for so long, convinces them, that they would be better off dead, than without the land, which they depend on. It's a valid point. And Richard Harris, makes sure we know and understand what is the reasoning behind it. With a sidekick, ( John Hurt ) the old man accomplishes everything, until he gets to the end of his rope and without meaning to, destroys his family, and eventually himself. After the loss of his son, his sidekick, and having
killed the American intruder in a fit of drunken rage, he has accomplished it all, but also placed his land, and country in the hands of the authorities, and a sure and certain sale and auction will follow, for anyone. This almost happened earlier, but Harris was capable of raising enough money to prevent the outsider from outbidding him, with a little help from the auctioneer.
This film was written and directed by Jim Sheridan, who has been instrumental, along with the likes of Richard Harris, and Kenneth Branaugh, of keeping the rich and proud welsh and Irish theatres on the world stage. It is a powerful film, that doesn't give up, until it is over, and leaves us with a slight distaste for the attitude which the fervent countryman has undertaken.
It is as much a story about nationalistic pride ( Tom Berenger is the American and the outsider ) as it is about the excesses of the emotional attitudes, people who have been so isolated, and at the same time, not had the chance to improve, learn, or develop, as other places in the world have. They are all un-educated, basically live from bits and pieces of work when available, and then spend the rest of their time at the local pubs, drinking and singing. As such, they never learn how to develop their land, or improve their personal
situations, or even receive any kind of formal education. So much for the British in the northwest. This subtlety is certainly clear.
The acting on this film is outstanding. That Richard Harris got an Oscar nomination and John Hurt did not is a real surprise. Both are equally impressive, in material which is hard to handle in that an overabundance of emotional behavior makes the story look soap-ish and not as appealing.
Worth while film for serious film watchers. Not for the entertainment minded group of people who are drinking their way through a movie.
A must see.
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