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This made-for-TV movie is set in the time period it was made (1972),
the story of two Northern Ireland families, one Protestant and one
who have managed, in spite of their different backgrounds, to become
friends. Yet they must still struggle against ancient hatreds that have
divided their communities and their island -- to the extent that they must
maintain their friendship in secret and away from their respective
neighborhoods. Despite their efforts, that friendship is gradually eroded
by enmity and fear woven so deeply that, before long, it begins to engulf
Jenny Agutter is the daughter of the Catholic family who finds romance with a British soldier, played by a very young Anthony Andrews. Despite these familiar faces, though, the mostly-Irish cast and the location filming give this movie a deep sense of authenticity. Ultimately, it's a heartbreaking story that pulls no punches -- made all the more poignant because, after so many years, Northern Ireland still has found no lasting peace.
I have not seen this movie in over thirty years and yet I can never forget the ending of this movie.As an African-American,I did not find anything to laugh about in this movie with all the discrepancies and inaccuracies that a few reviewers have mentioned. That the British soldiers' uniform may not have been accurate or where the movie was actually shot were not issues that mattered to me while watching this movie. There may have been some illogical plot twists in this movie but overall, the movie achieved its main point of how war affects children.I only remember how such a thing as hate can destroy people's lives and of course, that children are the first casualties.This movie first made me aware of the troubles in Ireland.I was impressed by the acting of the young actors.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has a lot to live up to . . The copy I saw came complete with the
blurb of " The War of Children is an uncomfortably realistic TV drama
of the latter-day "troubles" in Ireland. The tension is magnified by
the decision to film many of the key scenes in battle-scarred Belfast,
with the crew dodging bullets all down the line. These sequences were
seamlessly blended with newsreel footage and with pickup shots filmed
in the safer confines of Dublin. Actual Belfasters were used as extras,
which explains why their reactions of horror and hatred are so grimly
convincing " which contradicts a couple of the comments on this page .
As soon as it started I noticed something was wrong . The soldiers had a strange type of Disrupted Patern Material( DPM ) uniform . It's certainly not British DPM and I'd hazard a guess it's actually Italian army uniform . As the plot progresses you realise you don't have to be The Duke Of Wellington to notice the lack to military logic in the story . Anthony Andrews cheeky cockney soldier Reg Hogg freely wanders around Belfast unarmed and in uniform never fearing for his life despite the IRA engaging in frequent gun battles and bombings against the Brits . . If there's any Americans reading this try and imagine a story set in Iraq in 2005 and an American soldier taking an Arab girl out on a date to downtown Bahgdad and you'll understand the unlikeliness of this
The story proper revolves around the catholic Tomelty family who are friends with the protestant McCullum family but as the troubles explode over Northern Ireland their friendship turns to hostility . It's somewhat difficult to believe in the Tomelty's as real people since they're literary devices used to show how tribalistic conflicts divides individuals . The lack of conviction isn't helped either by Mr Tomelty coming across as an advert for Irish hospitality . One day he invites Brit Reg Hogg over to dinner and the next day he invites IRA gunman Seamus Lynch to the family table . . You really do worry that after he's interned by the British Ireland might be beset by another famine such is his hospitality
The story culminates in a mob of nationalist women trying to spring their husbands from a military convoy that ends in tragedy and as Jenny Aguter's character wails " Get me out of here " you feel she's saying this to her agent rather than Reg . A WAR OF CHILDREN is a very naive film full of unlikely situations and risible dialogue such as ten year old children saying " A moment of yer time if you're not too busy " but despite these criticisms it's nowhere as offensive as say THE DEVIL'S OWN . The film's heart is in the right place even though its brain never is
I recently saw this brilliant true film this year and was overwhelmed by the great storyline, acting and action. It was thought provoking and gave me new perspectives and new education relating to the Troubles in NI in the 60s - 70s. I was born in late 70s so I didn't know how bad things were in the early 70s on both sides of the conflict. It was the different circumstances throughout the film that led to different situations for families and friends. It was sad to see how a great friendship between 2 families (one was Catholic and one was Protestant) before the conflict 0 and then their friendship was torn apart overtime because of certain circumstances and situations as the NI Troubles escalated. I got emotional several times throughout the film eg when the nice Catholic mum becomes a hardcore republican and the 2 wee boys friendship breaking up. What really got me overwhelmed was the true love story which was the strong relationship between a Catholic girl and a British soldier which was threatened several times by the girl's own family and community and how the Catholic girl's mum (who was hardcore republican) disapproved her daughter's relationship with the British soldier and the girl's mum actually tarred and feathered her own daughter - heartbreaking movie but contains one of my all time favourite love stories about the relationship between the British soldier and a Catholic girl. I still get emotional thinking about this movie but will definitely watch it again and I definitely recommend it as it is dramatic, thought provoking, educational and making viewers see both sides of the coin. Younger people from Northern Ireland should watch this as it will show them how bad it was in the early 70s and you can see both sides of the coin on different situations and circumstances.
To use the word "authenticity" on the same page as this piece of doggerel
either a travesty of the truth or a betrayal of the writer's ignorance. I
saw it in 1973, when it was on general release in Dublin, and the audience
laughed with derision throughout.
To begin with the detail, it was filmed in Dublin, with Dublin buses careering around the background. The setting could have been made believable with care, but it was a low budget production and reeked of cheapness all the way through.
The characters, for the most part, had Southern Irish accents (Yes, we do speak differently up North). What's worse, they were lazy stereotypes; stage Oirish from start to finish (of which, more later). The police and army were stage villains, worthy of pantomime. The RUC were shown beating the heroic republican prisoners with blackthorn sticks. If this was shorthand, it was unreadable. The young soldier who fell in love with Jenny Agutter's west Belfast girl, was shown borrowing a Land-Rover to drive himself around Belfast, alone and unarmed. If this is authenticity, I've clearly been on drugs for 30 years.
The finale was particularly risible. The oppressed prisoners were being transferred by armoured car and truck, across misty, high moorland, to another, probably more oppressive, concentration camp, when, out of the mist, a toothless crone appeared, clad in the obligatory shawl (everybody in Belfast wore them in the 70s, don'tchaknow). She stumbled in front of the lead armoured car, to be hailed by the villainous British officer (they're all villains - ask Mel Gibson), with words to the effect of "I say there old crone, get out of the bally way". She replied with a stereotypical Belfast riposte to British officers: "Oi'm sorry yer honour". At this point, hordes of people streamed down the mountainside and rescue the heroic prisoners.
Yes folks. It happened just like that in real life. I'm from Northern Ireland originally. I only left 7 years ago. So I can vouch for its authenticity. Even the Dublin audience could see how true to life it was. As my mother used to say, "I haven't laughed as many since I was a children".
I watched this film in 1973, in Dublin, as I waited for a flight to New
York. It was laughable on every level. Firstly, the accents were all
over the place. Those that actually sounded Irish wandered at least 100
miles south of Belfast; well into the Republic of Ireland. The acting
was stage Oirish at its worst. Plotting was sublimely inauthentic, with
Anthony Andrews' soldier borrowing military vehicles to visit Jenny
Agutter up the Falls Road; acts which would have brought his romance to
an abrupt end. The IRA prisoners were rescued from the evil Brits when
an ancient crone, straight from the potato famine, teleported into the
late 20th century and stepped out in front of the armed convoy,
responding to the imperious complaint of the chief Brit with the
immortal line "Sorry yer honour".
The location shots were so obviously Dublin, right down to the green corporation buses, that when Anthony Andrews left the post-coital bed in his rented love nest, opened the curtains and said, "You can see the river from here", a loud Dublin voice shouted "It's probably the ****** Liffey!" He brought the house down.
See it for a laugh. Thirty three years later, it's still fresh in this viewer's mind.
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