Jewels from the Emerald Isle
When it comes to movies, theres more to Ireland than leprechauns, the Blarney Stone and Riverdance. Though the leprechauns are a recurrent feature. Irish directors like Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan have delivered some of the hardest hitting, uncompromising political dramas to come out of Europe, but the Emerald Isle has given us charming comedies and magical whimsy too. Not to mention a bunch of white boys with soul, and one of the biggest gender-bending twists in cinema history.
The Movie: A musical that doesnt depend on glitzy costumes and layers of make-up for its entertainment and heart, this drama from director John Carney follows an immigrant couples attempts to turn their love story into a musical. Traipsing the streets of Dublin, they imprint their lives on the music they create. A moving modern musical.
Vision Of Ireland: Flush with aural wonders.
The Quiet Man (1952)
The Movie: John Wayne vehicle directed by John Ford set in the 1930s, in which the first John plays Sean Thornton, an American boxer with Irish roots. When Sean returns to Inisfree to reclaim his familys farm, he finds love in the form of Maureen OHara.
Vision Of Ireland: Lush and verdant, befitting the moniker The Emerald Isle.
The Movie: Magical suburban fairytale following Dylan and Kylie, who escape their clashing families during Christmas and head to the city of Dublin, where they find a newfound freedom. The casting of unknowns Kelly ONeill and Shane Curry is a master stroke, as Lance Dalys film expertly follows their journey of self-discovery into the citys black heart.
Vision Of Ireland: A place of wonder.
In The Name Of The Father (1994)
The Movie: Oscar-nominated biopic starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Peter Postlethwaite as a father and son who are convicted of the IRAs Guildford pub bombings, which resulted in the deaths of four soldiers and a civilian. Its based on the true life story of the Guildford Four, in particular Gerry Conlons autobiography. Postlethwaite received his only Oscar nod for the film.
Vision Of Ireland: Gripped by IRA-induced fear.
The Field (1990)
The Movie: Based on the mid-60s play by John B. Keane, and following tough-as-old-boots farmer Bull McCabe (Richard Harris), who has spent his life transforming the rocky terrain he rents into a pasture suitable for his cattle. Harris received an Academy Award nod for his role.
Vision Of Ireland: Full of cattle and perfect for agricultural development.
In America (2003)
The Movie: Samantha Morton and Paddy Considine head up this touching drama from Jim Sheridan, which follows an Irish family who attempt to build a new life for themselves in New York.
Vision Of Ireland: Quaint and charming in comparison to America.
The Commitments (1991)
The Movie: Comedy drama adapted from Roddy Doyles novel, revolving around a soul band thats formed by a collection of unemployed Irishmen and women. Filmed on location in Dublin, it was directed by Fames Alan Parker and stars a cast of talented unknowns.
Vision Of Ireland: Overflowing with musical talent.
Angelas Ashes (1999)
The Movie: Another Ireland-based tale from English filmmaker Alan Parker, this one the tear-inducing story of Frank McCourts childhood in the 30s and 40s, when his fathers alcoholism created no end of turbulence for his family. It bombed at the box office, but is a gutsy adap of the real McCourts memoirs.
Vision Of Ireland: A place of hardship.
Michael Collins (1996)
The Movie: Biopic following the titular Collins from director Neil Jordan, with Liam Neeson in the title role. General Michael Collins is an Irish patriot and revolutionary who gives his life in the Irish Civil War. At the time, the film became the top grossing film ever to be released in Ireland.
Vision Of Ireland: Full of gutsy men wholl do right no matter what the cost.
The Boxer (1997)
The Movie: Dublin-born director Jim Sheridan teams up with Daniel Day-Lewis for the third time with this boxing drama. Day-Lewis plays Danny Flynn, a boxer whos just been released from prison and is determined to get his life back on track. When he discovers explosives in the gymnasium hes setting up, he finds himself up against a callous IRA lieutenant.
Vision Of Ireland: A political minefield.
Ryans Daughter (1970)
The Movie: Set in 1916, this loose adap of Gustave Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary failed to impress the critics at the time, but went on to win two Academy Awards and is now considered an overlooked masterpiece. The plot follows the affair between a married Irish woman and a British officer whos serving during the First World War.
Vision Of Ireland: Bursting with ravishing, oceanic vistas.
The Magdalene Sisters (2002)
The Movie: Award-winning drama about fallen teenage girls who are sent by their families to Magdalene Asylums (or Laundries), where they live in homes maintained by the Roman Catholic church. The Vatican banned the film. We wonder why.
Vision Of Ireland: Devout and with bullet-proof morals.
The Movie: Janeane Garofalo stars as Marcy, the American assistant to a Senator. She's sent off to Ireland in order to find her boss distant relatives in a bid to secure the Irish-American vote in the upcoming election. While there, Marcy discovers that the town of Ballinagra are hosting their annual matchmaking festival and finds herself the object of romantic advances. Twee but endearing.
Vision Of Ireland: Overflowing with love. Or something.
The Snapper (1993)
The Movie: Directed by Stephen Frears, this unofficial movie sequel to The Commitments follows the story of young Sharon Curley, who falls pregnant but wont reveal to her family who the father is. As they rally around her, they begin to suspect Sharons friends father is the one responsible for her pregnancy.
Vision Of Ireland: Filled with as much domestic disturbance as any country.
Waking Ned (1998)
The Movie: Comedy filmed on the Isle of Man following a rabble of money-grabbing Irish townspeople who all attempt to get their hands on the lottery winnings of their neighbour, who dies from shock after bagging the jackpot. Director Kirk Jones received a BAFTA nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. He went on to make Nanny McPhee.
Vision Of Ireland: Surprisingly similar to the Isle of Man.
Veronica Guerin (2003)
The Movie: Taut biographical drama from Joel Schumacher. Cate Blanchett stars as the titular journalist, whose investigation into Dublin drug trade resulted in her murder in 1996. Colin Farrell makes a cameo appearance as a tattooed man Guerin discusses football with.
Vision Of Ireland: A druggy underworld.
The Movie: Kelly Macdonald, Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy crop up in this dramatic crime comedy, which follows the intersecting lives of down-and-out Dublin inhabitants. Shot on the streets of Dublin, it comes from Is Anybody There? director John Crowley.
Vision Of Ireland: Sprawling and complex.
The General (1998)
The Movie: Excalibur and Deliverance director John Boorman helms this tale of Dublin crime boss Martin Cahill, who defied the IRA and UVF by pulling off some spectacular heists during the 80s. Brendan Gleeson excels as Cahill, while Jon Voight plays the inspector attempting to bring him down.
Vision Of Ireland: A hive of criminal activity.
Bloody Sunday (2002)
The Movie: TV film centred around the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry. James Nesbitt plays Ivan Cooper, a Northern Ireland MP who helped organise the Civil Rights march that saw 14 people die after British Army paratroopers opened fire. Paul Greengrass directed it two years before he helmed his first Bourne movie, The Bourne Supremacy in 2004.
Vision Of Ireland: Scene of shocking acts of violence.
The Crying Game (1992)
The Movie: Set around the time of the Irish Troubles, Crying Game follows IRA member Fergus (Stephen Rea), who kidnaps British soldier Jody (Forest Whitaker) with the help of IRA terrorist Jude (Miranda Richardson). After dispatching with Jody, Fergus meets his girlfriend Dil and begins to fall for her. A fascinating study in gender and sexuality.
Vision Of Ireland: Sexually ambiguous.
The Flight Of The Doves (1971)
The Movie: An old gem, Doves follows the flight of two Liverpool children from the abusive home of their Uncle to County Galway in Ireland, where their grandmother lives. The children are unaware, though, that theyre the heirs to their grandfathers fortune which will go to their Uncle if they go missing. A peril-filled drama with a great soundtrack.
Vision Of Ireland: A place of sanctuary.
Into The West (1992)
The Movie: Fantasy directed by Mike Newell (and reliably written by Jim Sheridan), Into The West follows two young boys whose Traveller grandfather tells them stories of magic and wonder. When the beautiful white horse that they befriend is stolen, the boys resolve to get him back and embark on a quest that sees them fulfilling their dream to become cowboys.
Vision Of Ireland: Normal on the surface, but fantastical if you scratch a little deeper.
The Devils Own (1997)
The Movie: Alan J. Pakulas final film sees Brad Pitt trying out an Irish accent as Frankie, the son of a Republican sympathiser who was shot to death when Frankie was just a child. Twenty years later, Frankie is a member of the Provisional IRA and running for his life. He runs all the way to New York, where he is put up in the house of police officer Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford). Though it has its critics, The Devils Own is a solid thriller featuring a great performance by Pitt.
Vision Of Ireland: Living in terror of the IRA.
The Van (1996)
The Movie: More Ireland action from director Stephen Frears, who tracks the story of Brendan Reeves, a newly-redundant baker who decides to buy a van and sell fish and chips for a living. Ireland's success at the 1990 World Cup gets business going well, but Brendans friendship with co-worker Larry is put on the line.
Vision Of Ireland: Good at football.
My Left Foot (1989)
The Movie: The first collaboration between Jim Sheridan and Daniel Day-Lewis, this drama tells the story of Christy Brown, whos born with cerebral palsy and only has control over his left foot. Raised in a working class family, he nonetheless goes on to become a successful writer and artist. Day-Lewis won the Oscar for his portrayal of Brown.
Vision Of Ireland: Able to overcome overwhelming adversity.
Some Mothers Son (1996)
The Movie: Jim Sheridans monopoly on the Irish film landscape continues as he scripts this Helen Mirren vehicle. She plays the mother of a prisoner (John Lynch) who goes on hunger strike during his time at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, believing hes being mistreated as a criminal instead of a prisoner of war.
Vision Of Ireland: Populated by strong-willed individuals.
The Movie: Moving drama based on Hugh Leonards Tony award-winning play. When his Da dies, a New York playwright heads to Ireland in order to attend to the funeral. But returning to his childhood home stirs up memories for Charlie (Martin Sheen), who sees visions of his Das ghost and finds himself reliving scenes from his past.
Vision Of Ireland: Imbued with a grand sense of history.
War Of The Buttons (1994)
The Movie: Joyous kiddie romp that follows two rival kid gangs in Ireland, who battle each other in ever-escalating clashes. Captured kids have their buttons removed as prizes. While the gangs fight, the two leaders discover a resentful admiration for one another. John Roberts film cleverly explores issues of war and its consequences through a light-hearted tale.
Vision Of Ireland: A childs playground.
Hear My Song (1991)
The Movie: BAFTA nominated film directed by actor Peter Chelsom and starring Adrian Dunbar, James Nesbitt, Ned Beatty and Shirley Anne Field. Micky ONeill runs a London nightclub that is going under. When he attempts to book Irish tenor Josef Locke, he finds that hell have to return to Ireland in order to bring Locke back to England himself.
Vision Of Ireland: Perfect for hiding out in if youre evading the taxman.