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Gerry Conlon is a small time Belfast thief who gets excluded from
Northern Ireland by the IRA for anti-social behaviour and goes to live
in England with his old school friend Paul Hill. They are in London
when the mainland bombing campaign becomes more intense and they are
both picked up for the bombing despite their claims of innocence. After
more than week of beatings, abuse and threats, the two men break and
sign confessions, longing for the beatings to stop and hoping the
courts would see through the lies. However they are found guilty and,
along with other relatives, sentenced to time ranging from 14 years to
life. As time goes on Gerry and his father campaign for their case to
be reopened until, eventually, the lawyer Gareth Pierce takes up the
I came to this film having not seen it since its release in the early 90's, at which time I was still living in Northern Ireland in a mostly Protestant area. Given the subject matter the film was well received in this area. I decided to rewatch the film last night so that I could review it for this site and, since first seeing it, I have actually more of an insight on the subject matter since I had been held without charge under the same legislation that held the Guildford Four and had been taken to court twice before the charges were entirely dropped. I say this not as some claim to having a more valid opinion than anyone else but simply as a counter to those who will accuse me of being biased on the basis of being a Protestant.
While I can see myself that the majority of reviews here for this film are slanted and full of political bias I will attempt to keep my review as free of this as I can (either one way or another).
Despite the fact that the film leaves out glaring facts, none of these facts actually affect the film's main thrust that these men were (for this crime) unjustly accused, tried and convicted. The facts that are ignored are those which would have made the film a bit more complex (eg Hill's membership of the IRA) and I can understand why the makers decided to just make the subject as clean cut as they could and not present the audience with anything that may cause them to be in any doubt about what they are meant to be feeling. I can understand why they did it but that does not make it right and I would have welcomed a more complex film because those of us from Northern Ireland know that nothing is ever as simply as right/wrong, black/white but Hollywood is not there to inform but to entertain and hence the facts get lost on the road to a good film. And it is a good film.
It is frustrating that people take what it tells them as fact but this doesn't take away from the fact that this is a well made, engaging and quite moving film. Regardless of political beliefs, the idea of a justice system that would do this is interesting and worrying to me, and the film does a good job (albeit it overegged) of letting us see the extent that the police went to to get, if not 'their man', then at least 'a man'. The film does well to deliver characters (although simplified) that are easy to get behind and they helped me get involved in a story that was already pretty involving in its own right. The direction feels professional and injects enough emotion and sense of anger into the film to give it a solid sense of pace without it ever really tipping over into sentimentality or out and out preaching/ranting. Of course the material also helps from a great cast that deliver well and do their bit to keep it edgy and not sentimental.
Day-Lewis is a very good actor and he does well here making his Gerry go through the stages of being a cheeky young man, frightened, shell-shocked, defeated, angry and then driven without us ever thinking he is a different character. If anything it is a shame that the film did paint his character so clean because I think Day-Lewis could have easily handled the moral complexities that would have come with that territory. Postlewaite is the real emotional heart of the film in many ways and he does very well with a role that could easily have been cloying and sentimental but Postlewaite plays it straight till the end. Thompson is all too simple and upright and her performance is little more than a cameo; this is made worse by the fact that the vast majority of English people are biased and corrupt according to the film again, like leaving facts out, just an attempt by the film to simplify things to make the audiences' emotions clearer and stronger.
Overall I like this film but it is not a perfect piece of cinema nor should it be taken as the whole story. The film has dropped facts and directed its presentation to ensure that we, the audience, are in no doubt over what we should be feeling and thinking throughout. This does not change the message of the film or the injustice of the things that happened but it doesn't do justice to the always-complicated situation that is my country. The film as a film is very good well acted, well paced, well directed and engaging from the early realistic shots of Belfast in the 1970's through to the 'I'm going out the front door' finale that is no less impacting for us knowing it is coming.
Words cannot accurately describe how affecting this movie
The story itself is harrowing, but the way in which Day Lewis portrays Gerry Conlon is heartbreaking at times. Several scenes in the film may be hard to take for those with a sensitive nature.
Captures the mood and the time perfectly for someone like me, who is not Irish, lives nowhere near Guildford and wasn't even alive at the time of the pub bombings.
I really wasn't expecting anything special when I sat down to watch this. I could not have been more wrong.
The soundtrack is great without exception too!
A total and utter classic.
A film fully deserving to be in IMDb's top 250, Jim Sheridan's "In The
Name of the Father" is an excellent piece of work. Based on a true and
very touching story, the film recounts the story of Gerry Conlon
(Day-Lewis) who is wrongly accused as an IRA terrorist. Not only are
the police bending the facts to prove their case, but in the process
they also implicate members of his friends and family, including his
father Giuseppe (Postlethwaithe) whose health condition is rather
frail. Gerry is a rebellious and mildly delinquent boy who does not
seem to have grown up, and his attitude toward his father is not the
appropriate one; however, as they start to go through the ordeal
together, Gerry gradually matures, and starts feeling a deep affection
and respect for Giuseppe.
The story is heart-breaking and shocking at the same time, all the more so when one realizes that these things actually DID happen. Although there have been some minor modifications for the purpose of the film, the backbone of the story is left completely intact.
The two protagonists, Daniel Day-Liewis and Pete Postlethwaithe are delivering powerful performances, and they both deserved the Oscar hands-down. However, it would be unfair not to mention that virtually everyone in the film is great in his/her role.
Jim Sheridan's direction is also very good, giving the plot a fair and balanced perspective; although the film might initially appear as pro-Irish / anti-English, in fact I consider it as quite objective. Granted, it vividly shows that some key figures in the London police were profoundly biased and manipulated maliciously the case against the Conlons; yet, it also shows that English public attitudes turned highly supportive for the Conlons' freedom when it started to become clear that they were not the culprits for the atrocities they had been charged with. We have always to remember that the film depicts a period of big tensions, with emotions running high to levels of hysteria, so we have to understand the events within this context.
Of course, what happened to the Conlons is totally deplorable and unjustifiable; and it is real shame that the people who conspired against them have not been punished yet for their crimes. Still, one should understand the hostile attitude shown by those who were not part of this conspiracy (such as the judge, for example), who were influenced by the climate of terror and the outrage of the public. The Conlons had the terribly bad luck to be at the wrong place, in the wrong time, and with the wrong nationality; the also have the great misfortune to be captured by people who in their quest to show results were shamelessly willing to risk indicting people who could possibly be innocent.
"In the Name of the Father" is a fantastic film, which one should not miss. 10/10.
What a clever film this was. Quite modest yet remarkably entertaining.
Instead of blaring political bias, viewers are treated to a compassionate
human drama without the preachings and irritating banter of most other
"social dramas" (Dog Day Afternoon, All the President's Men, Norma Rae).
It's shameful that this film didn't receive at least two academy awards,
despite it having been nominated for 7. Now considering that this was the
same year that Schindler's List and The Piano, two outstanding dramas,
released, it isnt surprising nor unreasonable that they beat In the Name
the Father for many of the awards.
The acting in this film is terrific. Lewis is low key and quite effective as the petty Irish thief Gerry Conlon. Pete Postlethwaite is spectacular as Gerry's father Guiseppe (certainly better than oscar winner tommy lee jones was in the fugitive). Emma Thompson's portrayal of attorney Gareth Pierce received much acclaim, and properly so. Beatie Edney, who had a small part as a wrongfully accused British teenage hippie, was so enamoring that its a wonder we don't see more of her.
Of course much of this film is exagerrated and perhaps fabricated for the purposes of entertainment (as all movies which are "based on a true story" tend to be) but it's so finely done that it doesn't seem to matter. Some terrific scenes include the beginning, when Gerry and his friends are chased by British soldiers after being mistaken for IRA snipers, the trial in London, the prison scenes (which expose the loneliness and honesty of the characters rather than the crude violence and gang rapes of so many other pathetic prison movies), and of course the powerful ending, where the marvelous dramatic talents of all the actors are evinced in a final crescendo. Be sure to see this film if you haven't, it will definitely stir your emotions and renew your faith in the human spirit. And for those who eschew political films, give it a try anyways, the acting and craftiness outweigh the civic themes.
Like MIDNIGHT EXPRESS , IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER is a an extremely well
made film , but like MIDNIGHT EXPRESS much of it is total invention .
Reviewers on this page have already pointed out the numerous errors such as
Guiseppe and Gerry Conlon never being imprisoned in the same jail or the "
Guilford four " and " Mcguire seven " trials taking place in completely
seperate court cases but no one seems to have pointed out the erroneous
backgrounds this film paints of Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill. In their book
THE PROVISIONAL IRA authors Patrick Bishop and Eamon Mallie state the facts
quite clearly that Paul Hill was a member of the Belfast brigade of the
provisonal IRA ( And Hill later did confess to being a member ) while Conlon
had been a member of Na Fianna Eireann which is the youth section of the
provisionals though Conlon was quickly kicked out ( Literally ) due to his
heavy drinking and drug taking . They didn`t meet on the ferry as shown in
the film but Conlon bumped into Hill in Southampton where Hill was staying .
What was Hill doing in Southampton ? He was on the run from the IRA who
wanted to question him about guns going missing and about the possibility of
Hill being an informer , something that is always punishable in IRA ranks
with death and prior torture . When Conlon returned to Belfast in December
1974 he did drunkenly mention to IRA acquaintances in pubs that he`d met
Hill in England and in order to punish Hill for his suspected crimes against
the organisation and to take the heat off their own cells active in Britain
at the time it was the IRA themselves who deliberately leaked the false
information to the intelligence services about Conlon and Hill being
involved in the Guilford bombings , not as the film shows a jealous
boyfriend . Hill was also later found guilty of the murder of a former
soldier though is never shown in the film and it`s this playing hard and
loose with the facts that almost threatens to destroy the film . It could
have been worse though , there might have been the suggestion that the
bombing could have been a mass suicide
Well that`s the bad points out of the way . What`s IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER`s good points ? Well Jim Sheridan directs with a real kinetic force especially the early scene where Conlon is pursued by the Brits against a voodoo chile soundscape . Sheridan also gets the very best out of his cast . Emma Thompson is good as the crusading lawyer , Pete Postlethwaite is very good as Guiseppe Conlon , but the outstanding performance is by Daniel Day Lewis as Gerry Conlon . Has anyone noticed the bitter Irony of a film about injustice features one of the greatest injustices commited by the Oscar board voters where they gave that year`s best actor Oscar to a very average performance by Tom Hanks ? No wonder more and more people view the Oscars as a popularity contest . And despite my above criticisms about the facts - or lack of them - IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER can in no way be described as a pro IRA film in the way that THE DEVIL`S OWN or SOME MOTHER`S SON are
Not only is this a remarkable, incredible, horrifying story of a man who becomes victim of the British' witch-hunt. It is so well told, so realistic, that the viewer gets involved in the Northern Ireland conflict. The acting is superior, the directing is great - a truly astonishing movie. 10/10
Even though this movie seems a bit too black and white from time to
time I must say that it still is an impressive piece of cinema. Too
black and white because I sometimes had the feeling that they had left
out some parts to make it all a lot easier for the viewer. I can't help
believing that Conlon and Hill weren't the nicest guys either, but the
movie shows them almost as saints (except for the fact that they steal
some lead from the roofs, they never really do anything wrong). Does
that mean that this movie isn't any good? Certainly not! It still
remains very impressive and the idea that injustice in the name of
protecting the country should be allowed is awful and so it is good
that at least some movie makers aren't afraid to protest against it.
The movie tells the story about Gerry Conlon and his old school friend Paul Hill. They both are small time criminals and because of their own safety they have to live in London for a while. Otherwise they might get shot by the IRA. In London they stay in a community of hippies, but aren't welcomed by everybody. As a bomb explodes in a pub, one of the members from the community goes to the police and accuses them of the crime. They are immediately apprehended, together with Conlon's father, his aunt and her family. What follows is a process full of corruption and false accusations, putting them in jail for many years even though they haven't done anything wrong.
The film is very good. It's well acted, well paced and well directed. The story is touching and I never got bored when watching it. Therefor I give it an 8/10.
The movie is based on a true story. Belfast guy Gerry Conlon is
suspected of being one of the IRA terrorists responsible for a bomb in
Guilford, London, in 1974, which killed several people. He spends 15
years in jail, fighting for his innocence and for truth.
After working with Daniel Day Lewis in "My left foot", director Jim Sheridan teams again with the actor for this drama. The strong cast is completed by Emma Thomson and Pete Postlewaite. The result is a brilliant, passionate feature which tells about injustice. It's a disquieting film.
This is doubtless the most achieved collaboration between the director and the main star. The other pictures as well are very good, but here we have a film of accusation -the story is more involving. Day Lewis performance in "My left foot" was awarded with an Oscar, but the actor could have been given the same prize for his play of Gerry Conlon.
Strong screenplay, actors and soundtrack -with music of Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer and songs of Irish stars Bono and Sinead O'Connor.
Name of the Father came out one year before The Shawshank Redemption and is
bar none the better film. Shawshank is a great film but Name of the Father
has more of human story to it. Daniel Day Lewis is a great actor with more
potential now than he did when he won his first Oscar for My Left Foot and
since then he has never starred in a film which he has acted badly in. Some
of the stories have not been amazing but his acting makes up for it. This
was the second time That Daniel Day Lewis and Jim Sheridan have come
together to make a film. In all they have done three but Name of the father
is by far the best. Pete Postlethwaite is another example of fine acting
as he is the best actor in England since who ever was the last greatest
Daniel Day Lewis plays Gerry Conlon who is a seventies hippie who doesn't want to grow up. He has had so many troubles at home his father
Giuseppe played by Postlethwaite decides to pack him off to London for his own safety and not become a lost soul amongst the troubles in Belfast. But when Gerry gets there he might as well wish he never went there in the first place as the trouble from Belfast follows him and before you know it a bomb goes off in a pub near to where he is staying and is not long arrested for the bomb along with his friends and family including his father.
From there we are taken into this grieving story of strength, hope, tragedy and family. The story between father and son in jail is more touching and compelling than any love story you will ever see because these two men who have never really seen eye to eye are forced to confront each other's feeling and face up to where they stand in the world. Also Pete Postlewaite reminds me of my own father and my grandfather and yours two. He plays Giuseppe so well so would have thought he was the old guy living next door to you or the man you look up to as a father and spend time with as a granddad. What you have to remind yourself is that the movie is a true story of the Guilford Bombing and the men who paid the price for it. Whether or not you believe Gerry and Giuseppe were guilty of the Guilford Bomb is not the case in the film as it's more about the characters and there trials and tribulations.
One film that will always be remembered in my mind about making a difference with your life not matter where you are in the world.
Jim Sheridan's astonishingly fantastic 'In the Name of the Father' tells the brutally direct story of a wrongfully accused family who are tortured into making a false confession and imprisoned by the British justice system. Sheridan has a way of telling his stories where he gets straight to the point and does not fear to show the reality of the situation while keeping us viewers at the edge of our seats. The film is based on Gerry Conlan's autobiography where Daniel Day-Lewis plays the central character. Sheridan effectively portrays Gerry and Giuseppe's struggle and fight against injustice and his portrayal of the corrupt British justice system is frightening. Just the idea that people could get away with such things in a country like the UK is chilling and Sheridan skillfully brings that across on screen. Terry George's brilliant screenplay with rich characters and solid dialogues forms a good backbone for the film. I also liked how the humour was infused in a modest dose as not to interfere with the intensity of the story. There are some excellent performances. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a suitably explosive performance as he breathes fire into the role while Pete Postlethwaite is sublime and equally outstanding as Gerry's father, Giuseppe. Though father and son do have issues to fight over, it is Giuseppe who is Gerry's conscience and Postlethwaite's heartbreaking act really touches the heart. Emma Thompson holds her own and she is simply excellent. The rest of the cast do a superb job (watch out for Tom Wilkinson in a bit role). The soundtrack fits the mood of the film and the cinematography is good, especially in the prison sequences, where it creates that feeling of claustrophobia which gets stronger after Gerry is alone in his cell. I have liked all of Sheridan's ' films that I have seen so far and 'In The Name Of The Father' is another remarkable film from this fine director. It is a difficult movie to watch due to some disturbing themes and scenes (though most of them are rather suggestive it is the idea behind that sends chills down the spine) but it is definitely worth watching.
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