Here are our top 10 Irish views streaming on Netflix:
1. The Quiet Man (1952)
Undoubtedly the most famous film set in Ireland ever, The Quiet Man is a triumph of classic Hollywood studio film-making. John Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irish-born American who returns to his ancestral home, the fictional village of Innisfree, to reclaim his family's land. While there he falls for the fiery red-headed beauty Mary Kate Danaher, portrayed by Maureen O'Hara in her most iconic role. Of course trouble ensues when there is a dispute over land (the most Irish of disputes), culminating in one of the most epic fist fights seen on screen.
The Quiet Man truly is a classic, in the same vein as Gone With the Wind and Doctor Zhivago. It's stunning shots of the wild Irish countryside are a wonder to behold and the crackling chemistry between its two leads puts most modern on-screen couples to shame. This is the perfect film to cozy up to with on the couch when you're looking for something that is pure escapist romance. For those of you who have seen it before, it's well worth a return trip to Innisfree; for anyone who has yet to experience it, you're in for a treat.
2. The Secret of Kells (2009)
This stunning Oscar-nominated feature will enchant viewers young and old. The work of Kilkenny-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon, "The Secret of Kells" draws upon The Book of Kells, Ireland’s venerable and most famous illuminated manuscript, for both its unique animation style and its plot. Set in the eighth century in the Abbey of Kells, it centers on a boy named Brendan whose uncle, the Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) watches over Kells with a well-intentioned but stern eye, intent upon building a wall high enough to keep out the Viking invaders. Having narrowly escaped a Viking attack on Iona, Brother Aidan (Mick Lally) and his cat Pangur Bán arrive in Kells, seeking a safe place to complete the Book of Iona illuminated manuscript. Against Abbot Cellach’s wishes, Brother Aidan soon enlists Brendan’s help, which results in him venturing into the forest outside of Kells’ walls, where he meets a spirit named Aisling. Danger of the snake-like pagan deity and the Viking variety ensues as Brendan must choose between obeying his uncle and protecting the book.The animation is simply breath-taking - unlike anything else before this film, or since.
3. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Be advised that "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" should only be watched on a day when ample time can be set aside for some tears and deep contemplation of Irish history. Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney star as brothers from Co. Cork who fight alongside each other in their local IRA brigade during the War of Independence (1919-22) and then against each other in the Irish Civil War (1922-23). It is a wrenching and deeply personal examination of war and allegiance. Directed by British filmmaker Ken Loach and featuring an almost entirely Irish cast, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" set the record for the highest-grossing independent film released in Ireland and won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
4. My Left Foot (1989)
Esteemed Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan’s directorial debut, "My Left Foot" is the movie that made Daniel Day-Lewis and earned him his first Oscar. Here he takes on the role of real-life figure Christy Brown, an Irishman severely disabled by cerebral palsy, who came to write and paint using the only limb he could move - his left foot. The movie may not be quite as immediately gripping as "The Boxer" or politically charged as "In The Name of the Father" (both also directed by Jim Sheridan and both currently streaming on Netflix), but Day-Lewis gives an astounding performance, and contemporary film history has it that "My Left Foot" was the first movie for which he tried the total immersion form of method acting he’s now famous for. Day-Lewis insisted upon staying in character between takes, with the crew aiding him, and broke two ribs from spending so much time hunched over. Brenda Fricker, Cyril Cusack and Fiona Shaw top off the extraordinary cast.
5. Run and Jump (2013)
A much more recent film than most on this list, Run and Jump is a wonderful little film that boasts stellar performances from Maxine Peake, Edward MacLiam and well known American actor Will Forte. The story follows Conor, an Irishman who suffers a stroke that leaves him mentally challenged and who must go through months of rehabilitation, changing completely the family dynamic between his wife and children. Forte plays an American doctor who receives a grant to study Conor's recovery in Ireland and events unfold in a touching and poignant manner. Shot on location in Wicklow and Kerry, Run and Jump is a film that is well worth a watch on Netflix.
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