We can’t all visit Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, though we might yearn to make that trip. And having Gabriel Byrne as our guide would be magical, would it not?
So, the next best thing? Go there virtually!
These three Gabriel Byrne films are on our annual Wearing of the Green list and represent, not only Gabriel’s commitment to making films in Ireland, but also his obvious love for and devotion to his home country. As the saying goes, these are “the next best thing to being there.” wink
Into the West
Considered a classic now, this film evokes so much that we think of as “Irish”: the rough majesty of the western countryside, the mystery of the Travellers, the myths of the land of eternal youth and the selkies, the strong bonds of family, the history of loss and redemption. While this story could have fallen into the traps of stereotype, it did not. This is an original and lyrical telling of a modern agony, and it is told with both spirit and delicacy.
Into the West is a film about two young boys, Tito (Conroy) and Ossie (Fitzgerald), whose father (Byrne) was “King of the Travellers” until his wife, Mary, dies during the birth of their second son, Ossie. The boys’ grandfather (David Kelly) is an old story-telling Traveller, who regales the children with Irish folk-tales and legends. When he is followed by a beautiful white horse called Tír na nÓg (meaning “Land of Eternal Youth” in Irish), from the sea to Dublin, where the boys and their father now live, the boys are overwhelmed with joy and the dreams of becoming cowboys. The horse is stolen from them and they begin their adventure to get their mystical horse back. They escape the poverty of a north Dublin council estate, and go “Into the West” where they find that Tír na nÓg is not just a horse.~ Wikipedia
Behind the scenes interviews, historical and literary background, and lots of videos, pics, and reviews for this lovely film.
This is the Sea
There have been many movies about “The Troubles.” This one is different. While the political turmoil of the time simmers in the background, this story focuses on two young lovers and brings that conflict into stark relief. How do you live your life when you are being pulled in so many different directions? How do you take your first steps into the future when the past is tugging at your shoulder, always threatening and demanding allegiance? How can two people from contrasting worlds share one life? This is modern Ireland, not a mythic version of it. A tough tale, told well.
In this Romeo and Juliet-style story set in Northern Ireland after the 1994 cease fire, young devout Protestant Hazel and Catholic Malachy fall in love. Malachy’s brother approves, but his militant underground leader does not, and they are ultimately surrounded by violence. –Rotten Tomatoes
The video excerpt above tells you immediately: this is a powerful, thoughtful, and intensely focused version of a story often told. No one has ever captured the complete Arthurian legend on film, but John Boorman’s version lands closest to the mark. Filming exclusively in Ireland, such a rare event in those days, and introducing us to many faces new to the screen, including Gabriel Byrne in his first major film role, Boorman grabs the legend and won’t let go until the sword is returned to the lake. It’s a grand film, filled with iconic images and stirring music, using only practical and in camera effects (no CGI!), and the Irish landscape is a glorious setting for it all.
John Boorman directed this gloriously savage interpretation of Arthurian legend loosely based on Thomas Malory’s novel Le Morte d’Arthur. By turns gleaming and filthy, tender and bloody, the film is a visually stunning epic which is never less than compelling. Nigel Terry is perfectly cast as Arthur, whose unwavering trust and faith are shown to be both quietly heroic and achingly naïve. Interestingly, the quest for the Grail is the least effective part of the film, despite bold cinematography by Alex Thomson (who was nominated for an Oscar) and a fine performance by Paul Geoffrey as Perceval, whose greatest desire is attained in his dying sight. It is the scenes of Camelot in which Boorman is at his most effective, as Arthur is betrayed by the burning passions of Guenevere (Cherie Lunghi) and Lancelot (Nicholas Clay), whose boiling internal forces cannot be denied, whatever the cost. The wicked Mordred (Robert Addie) and Morgana (Helen Mirren) are commanding when onscreen, and Nicol Williamson’s performance as the grandiosely self-sacrificing Merlin is outstanding. Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart also appear in this dense, passionate, and stirring triumph featuring a marvelous Trevor Jones score. The gruesome effects by Peter Hutchinson and Alan Whibley, however, and sights such as a knight having sex in full body armor make this a fairy tale strictly for adults. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide
Provides more videos and pics, lots of background information and quotes from the film, and even Merlin’s Charm of Making!
So, there you have it! Three great ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, with Gabriel Byrne and friends taking you on trips through time to lovely Ireland. Enjoy the day and Éirinn go Brách !