About a year ago, through work I obtained four cinema tickets, for five euro each, to be used at any one of the Odeon Cinemas. As the weekend was the start of the Fringe Theatre Festival, you might guess that I would not be at the pictures, as I’d be watching a live show. You’d be wrong. After our exertions with ‘Mother’s little treasure’ I am currently enjoying a mini-hiatus from theatrical pursuits. It’s only temporary but the break is needed.
Over the past few days I have been having a torrid affair with the movies, using my discount tickets. On Saturday I went to see ‘Black 47’ – a new film directed by Lance Daly. It’s a drama film that takes its name from the most devastating year of the Irish Famine. The Famine lasted from 1845 to1849, during which time 1,000,000 Irish people died from starvation and disease thanks to the failure of the potato crop. Another 1,000,000 people emigrated to the USA – the first huge scale voluntary immigration to the USA. Thanks to racist laws Irish Catholics were barred from owning land, meaning they had no choice but to eke out a living as serfs to absentee British landlords. Their rent was paid in cash crops. Their subsistence diet was the noble spud. When it failed it wreaked havoc on the land.
This film is a revenge thriller about Martin Feeney (James Frecheville) – an Irish soldier fighting for the British Army in Afghanistan. In 1847 he deserts and returns home to the west of Ireland to find the country in ruins – with people dying of starvation and fever in their millions (while grain was being exported to England – which is why some argue that the Famine was an opportunistic genocide, in the sense that it wasn’t planned, but that the death of millions was ignored for economic reasons). Upon discovering that his family has perished he goes on a revenge spree to kill those responsible. Hugo Weaving and Freddie Fox are sent west from Dublin to catch him.
This is the first ever film to tell the tale of the Famine on film. Strange considering it is probably one of the most definitive events in our history – it killed the Irish language, scattered Irish people across the world, made independence from the coloniser inevitable, and altered the landscape forever – Ireland is the only country in Europe where the 2018 population is less than its 1840 population.
It’s a gripping and harrowing film, where I was cheering for the vigilante killer. Recommended.
Continuing my cinematic adventure, I watched ‘BlacKkKlansman’ after work today. It is a true story set in 1979 about Ron Smallworth – the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs police department, who sets out to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Smallworth (played by Denzel’s son John David Washington) finds an advertisement to join the Ku Klux Klan. He calls and pretends to be a white man, and speaks with Walter, the president of the Colorado Springs chapter. He recruits his Jewish co-worker, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to act as him to meet the Ku Klux Klan members in person. Zimmerman attends a meeting and meets Walter, along with the more radicalized member Felix. The Klan speaks about an upcoming attack.
This is an excellent film. The cast are incredible, the plot is exciting, tense, upsetting and disturbing. it is timely considering the incredulity of Smallworth to the idea that a polished racist like David Duke (former Grand Wizard of the Klan) could ever be president, considering the festering turd that currently occupies the White House. I won’t reveal too much of the plot to avoid spoiling it. I would highly recommend this film.