Hardships of the Irish Family
The hardships experienced by families have been the focus of many cinematic depictions of Irish history. After the Republic of Ireland was partitioned, families were forced to endure civil war, religious pressure, depression, poverty, and more. Surviving and persevering through these difficult years required drastic measures and unfaltering commitment to the ideals of family and unity. Through a comparison of similarities and differences focused on John Boorman’s The General (1998) and Alan Parker’s Angela’s Ashes (1999), we will uncover the prominent struggles portrayed by Irish film and the deeper issues affecting families desperately trying to survive.
In order to have struggle, there typically exists an external element, which sits at the root of all problems faced by the family. With Angela’s Ashes, we find ourselves amidst the Great Depression, where jobs are scarce and families are forced to live day to day scrounging around for basic food and supplies. Boorman pays careful attention to creating a cold and damp atmosphere which produces an aura of sadness and lost hope. The opening scenes include back lanes, with heavy rainfall, little greenery, and pale grey tones, and the simple theme composition from John Williams playing in the background.
In The General, we follow Martin Cahill, played by Brendon Gleeson, through his life of crime and mischief. The conflict in this film is drawn from the rebellion of lower class Irish people during the reign of the Dublin Corporation and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) following World War II. Cahill appears un-phased by his actions and, though in and out of prison, continues his criminal ways until being assassinated in 1994. Gleeson does a remarkable job portraying the defiant and carefree Cahill, with all his quirks. Parker shot the film in black and white, perhaps to emphasize the historical nature and fact-based plot, but also to symbolize the two sides involved and the...