Gabriel Byrne, currently about to star in a mini-series for Channel 4 UK, starred in another project for Channel 4 back in 1984: Reflections.

Based on the novel The Newton Letter, by John Banville, this television film offers great writing, of course, and a great cast, including Byrne, Donal McCann, Fionnula Flanagan, Harriet Walter, and Niall Tóibín. That is not just a great cast; that is a stellar cast. All of these actors have had amazing careers and it is lots of fun to see them in this drama from almost 30 years ago.

John Banville, as we know, also writes under the nom de plume Benjamin Black. Gabriel Byrne is essaying the role of his main character Quirke later this month for the BBC. Intriguing that their relationship (writer and actor) goes back so far.

Rachel Portman provided the score for this, one of her first works in an illustrious career of composing for the screen.

Of Reflections, the New York Times says:

The immediate subject of ”The Newton Letter,” originally published in Britain in 1982 and appearing in the United States for the first time, is not Newton’s own speculative shift but an analogous series of shifts in the perspective of an aspiring Newton biographer, who in the late 1970’s rents a rural retreat in the south of Ireland where he intends to finish the book that will set the record straight once and for all. There he himself becomes embroiled with women, the middle-aged Charlotte and the young Ottilie. A third character, Charlotte’s husband, Edward, emerges from the background as the narrative develops, completing the romantic triangle-plus-one that indicates how thoroughly history is implicated in this story – not only the history of science but literary history as well. For Charlotte, Ottilie and Edward are the three main characters of Goethe’s 1809 novel ”Elective Affinities,” a work that is similarly organized around a structural metaphor drawn from the sciences.

The entire film is available below in a YouTube Playlist. There are 5 parts.



This is Banville the novelist and Byrne the actor in their earliest days. Enjoy.

Many thanks to ElfIsByrning for sharing this gem with us all! Making this available to you has been a true collaborative effort and we are the beneficiaries of her foresight in saving this all these years. Thanks, Elf!


  1. Kim Serrahn aka Connell

    Oh Stella, I wondered what you were working on. Thanks ever so. And in all these years our boy has never gotten any older and still looks amazing too this very day. Thanks for all your hard work. OOOXXX’s

  2. Grand….just Grand! I, of course, have now ordered the book. Thank you for the time and effort this took.

    • I ordered it, too! John Banville is such a superb writer. It is so much fun to know that Mr. Byrne was interpreting his work back in 1984 and now he will be doing so again!

  3. Great!
    Thanks for sharing Reflections with us.
    I have never seen it before and I love it.
    Thanks Stella!

  4. Ger Cummins

    How great it was to stumble across this today. Brought back so many great memories of filming by Dripsey Castle. I don’t suppose you’d know would it be possible to buy a copy of the film?

    • Hi, Ger! Thanks for dropping by. No, I am not aware of any commercial availability of this film, which is why it was so great that a fan had a VHS copy of it that we were able to share with everyone.


  5. I’ve been watching the 2020 tv series Normal People which is excellent. Some have compared Paul Mescal (Connel) as a young Gabriel Byrne. I didn’t really see it until I recalled this 1984 program. Although Byrne is 10 years older than Mescal in Reflections, I’m beginning to see the similarities especially the aloofness, charisma, classic features, and stillness of the two Irish actors.

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