|"The Quiet Man"|
I personally love Irish films. So much so that I got a Masters studying them, which, arguably, was not the wisest subject to pursue in the middle of a recession, but definitely fascinating – no regrets here. There is a great deal of variety and they’ve evolved considerably in the last half a century or so. Consider the difference between, say, The Quiet Man and the The Crying Game (the latter having one of the best tag lines ever – ‘The film the everyone is talking about – but no one is giving away its secrets”). Completely different subject matters – I won’t say more about The Crying Game so as not to spoil it for you – and both great.
I want to concentrate on The Quiet Man, though – I love this film. Directed by John Ford (who was actually born in America but managed to wax nostalgic about his home village in Ireland convincingly enough to let the studio allow him to make the film), it follows the story of Sean Thornton (John Wayne) who had moved to America with his mother when he was a small child and returns to his native village of Inisfree, and falls for the local spit-fire Mary Kate Danaher, played by Maureen O’Hara, who, with her Technicolor-mastered blazing red hair, set the template for the media representation of an Irish woman for the next several decades (and to an extent, still does today).
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I love The Quiet Man (which I was first exposed to during that brilliant scene in E.T.) in part because it’s an enjoyable, funny film, but also in part because in his own way, Ford was playing with the idea of the Irish stereotype, which is sometimes lost on audiences today – it’s poking fun of the way people saw the Irish as shillelagh-carrying yokels. It also illustrates what quite a lot of people yearn to do – return to the land of their ancestors. As I’ve said before, my family doesn’t have particularly palpable ties with Ireland – I just really like it here – but ancestry is something that draws people back here and Ford perfectly captures Thornton’s joy of experiencing his (admittedly incredibly idyllic) childhood home again as an adult.
So if you’re not in a position to shoot over to Dublin in the next week to experience the awesomeness of J-DIFF, treat yourself to an Irish movie night at home. Feel free to tweet me (@chelsea_morgan) for suggestions – horror, comedy, romance, history – I can set you up with whatever you want! Might as well put this degree to good use, right?