Films about The Troubles
I saw a movie the other night that was set in Northern Ireland during the time when British soldiers patrolled Belfast, and the television news had nightly reports of bombings and killings. “Good Vibrations” despite its bouncy title, is one of the better movies I’ve seen that chronicle that turbulent time. I watched the film with my number one beta reader. She’s extremely critical when something doesn’t seem authentic whether it is in film or literature. The movie was interspersed with actual television news footage from the seventies and eighties – boarded up buildings, tanks making their way down residential streets, the houses on either side with either their curtains closed or young Irish men aggressively calling to the soldiers. When the movie ended she turned to me and said, “You got it right. Now that I’ve seen what it was really like I know that in your book, you got it right.”
A year ago I released My Name Is Hardly. Part of the story takes place during the same time period and involves soldiers on both sides as well as the ordinary people who lived through it all. Since the book’s release I’ve not only had confirmation from readers but I also had the honor of being contacted by some of the soldiers who were there, and fortunately, they all told me the same thing. My book painted the picture in a realistic manner to them too. My Name Is Hardly is being offered as part of a special promotion later in January and will be available in e-book form for a limited time for only 99 cents. When I researched “Hardly” I interviewed servicemen, journalists, other folks who lived in Ireland at that time, and I even contacted the UK Department of Defense. Plus, I watched movies set during that time. The following is a short list of movies that I believe manage to capture the substance of what really happened.
This was actually a television movie released in the UK. It gives you a feeling of being one of the citizens on the street, working at a business, coming home for supper in the evening, driving into town to go shopping. The mayhem and destruction were always present but you had to keep living, and that’s what people did. The tragedy that happened in Omagh isn’t well known in North America, but it should be. For me, this is the best film of the bunch, and it’s beautifully summed up at the end when they play Juliet Turner’s Broken Things. This was the actual song played at the funeral when the whole town grieved their losses.
An extremely interesting story about forgiveness and the intrusion of television, and reality programs in particular into our personal lives, and our personal tragedies. It begins with an orchestrated, televised opportunity for the brother of a victim and his brother’s killer to meet and it ends in the manner that it should. Skillfully and realistically told, it’s about more than just Ireland, it’s about choices and the ramifications of those choices – the things that are left behind. Here’s a line from one of the main characters, “Time will heal they say… what everybody says about everything. The years just get heavier. Why don’t they tell you that? Nobody tells you that!”
I was eight and living across the water in Scotland when the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” shootings occurred. I didn’t understand what was happening of course but I remember friends of my parents moving from Ireland to live in our neighborhood, on the safer streets of Kilmarnock. The film is again, an everyman’s view of the events of that day. James Nesbitt, who also appeared in the movie listed above, has a way of being the man in the crowd who’s so easy to identify with. If you don’t know what happened this shows the events unfolding. There’s only one piece of music in the whole film and it is, of course, U2’s Sunday_Bloody_Sunday.
I enjoyed this film because it was a story of the Punk movement in Britain during the seventies and eighties, and told the story of the troubles, again from the level of the streets. Somehow, Terri Hooley, a local disc jockey, manages to secure financing from the bank and opens a record store in the middle of a bombed out street in Belfast. Hooley goes on to discover The Undertones as well as broker his own unique peace agreement. There’s a gritty realism to this one too amidst the laughter and despair. This is a true story and the record store still stands.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about what happened these films would be a good place to start. Oh, and as mentioned, I did write a book that was set there too. My_Name_Is_Hardly is available for 99 cents as part of an Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal from January 27th to 30th in the US through amazon.com and the UK through amazon.co.uk.