As a member of a very Irish family, it is easy to grow bored of traditional Irish meals which consist of boiling just about everything. There is more to the culture than the bland food, though. Many people know of Ireland’s traditional step dance, folk and Celtic music. But, many people are unaware of its growing film industry, especially in the independent film industry.
I spent much of my spring break lounging around and watching movies. In honor of the holiday, my family decided to watch many Irish films. Fortunately, Netflix recently added an extensive list of Irish classics and new films. These films capture the picturesque views of the Irish countryside, the bustling streets Dublin, and the unique music and culture of Ireland.
Every St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll find the 1952 movie The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, playing on my living room television. It tells the story of an American man who escapes his past by returning to his homeland, Ireland. He buys a house in the Irish countryside, and falls in love with his unpleasant neighbor’s younger sister. The love story is met with beautiful views of the Irish countryside and disputes over the relationship in the small village.
Today’s Irish film scene is largely made up of independent films, in contrast to the grand and elaborate production of mid-twentieth-century movies. An example of this push towards independent films that put the Irish industry on the map is the film Once, which stars the members of the band Swell Season. Set to award-winning music, the movie tells the story of an Irish street musician who meets a young Czech woman. The characters, named “Girl” and “Boy,” form an unlikely pair and decide to collaborate and combine their musical talents. Their music tells the story of their blossoming love. The film was made on a tight budget, but went on to win an Oscar for best original song and was adapted to the Broadway stage.
The Irish film industry is not just limited to romances such as Once and The Quiet Man. Like their British neighbors, the Irish are also known for their dry sense of humor. The film Life’s A Breeze chronicles an unemployed slacker down on his luck who decides to do something nice for his elderly mother and cleans up her home. He throws away many of her belongings including old newspapers and an old mattress. However, in doing so, he throws away more than just a mattress — he throws away her life savings. As familial issues are at the forefront, the focus of the family shifts to the search for the lost fortune in this Irish comedy.
In another Irish comedy, Waking Ned Devine, a small village discovers that one of their residents has won the lottery. In the hopes of getting a piece of the fortune, Ned’s neighbors head to his home only to find him dead from the shock of winning. The townsfolk come together to convince the claim inspector that one of them is really Devine in order to claim the fortune in this outrageous comedy.
As St. Paddy’s is forgotten until next year, now is as good a time as any to take a trip to the Emerald Isle through some of Ireland’s finest movies.