Broken Harvest (1994) Poster

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ch7725 January 2006
Like the previous commentator on this film, I too found myself in tears at times during this movie. Sometimes one wonders how a film of such awe-inspiring awfulness comes into existence. From the first moment when our protagonist wakes up in his New York apartment from a dream of subway trains intercut with galloping horses (what Irish emigrant hasn't had that one), its clear we are in trouble. And it doesn't get much better.

Whisked back to 1950s Ireland, we enter a world where everybody speaks without intonation, and exclusively on the topic of the Irish Civil War. Schoolchildren go to school to learn about the Civil War. The drinkers in the pub divide themselves according to their Civil War allegiances. Remembrances are carried out for those who died in the Civil War. The town is divided between those who believe we should remember and those who want to forget...the Civil War. Every glance and conversation is dripping with meaning that traces back to the Civil War.

The blurb on the videocover of Broken Harvest suggests that the film is a parable of the troubles in modern Ireland. The only parallel which strikes me is that in present day Dublin conversation is indeed dominated by one topic: house prices. If its intention is to offer some sort of insight into Ireland's obsession with its past, it fails miserably. It is striking how few Irish films have dealt with the Irish civil war and its legacies. However it will take a film of a great deal more subtlety and intelligence than this one to tell us anything about the lasting effects of such a traumatic event on the nation's psyche.

For those American viewers who have suggested the film evokes the atmosphere of 1950s Ireland: it doesn't. 1950s Ireland was a horrible, poverty stricken pit of sexual repression and misery from which young people fled in their droves. However there was more than one topic of conversation.
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Interesting idea marred by poor acting and cinematography
bbraat20 September 2005
I could not stand the woman who played the mother. I wanted her to shut up. She had a bizarre manner of speaking and the lines she was given to read didn't make it any better. I had no idea why the men of the town were so taken with her to cause all these problems except that in a town populated by men she seemed to be the only woman over ten and under sixty. Even after a terrible tragedy her voice was devoid of human emotion, she seemed to have no ability to grasp the events of her life. She delivered her lines with the same emotion whether she was saying "i love you", "i hate you", "the bank is foreclosing", "my dress is on fire". Was this actually filmed in Ireland? The sun blazed throughout the movie and the characters seemed surprised by a rain shower during the harvest. I lived in Ireland during the summer of 2002, the wettest summer in a century. Most everything was still harvested. If the farmers in Ireland could only harvest during long dry stretches then the country would have starved hundreds of years ago. It seems as if there wasn't a lot of money to make the movie. The black and white flashbacks looked as if they were filmed with the security cameras one can get at Sam's Club.
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Maybe it the film wasn't the best but...
sofox11 January 2009
...the opportunity it gave me to look at Ireland's past was invaluable.

I had the benefit of seeing this with my Mother who hailed from Cork, and in watching, we talked and I learned a lot from her about how things were back then.

Stuff like how Deasy and Co. was a Cork soft drinks company; how rain truly could destroy a harvest; how farmers used to have to collect the crop; how in dance halls the women and men did really have to stand along opposite walls before the men walked forward and asked the woman to dance; about the bellows that kept the fire going; how priests really did call out the list of church donators and their donations and a bit about the currency back then (which my Dad helped by showing me a case displaying the pence, shillings and crowns that were used back then (which were legal tender in England also)).

I didn't pay that much attention to how good the movie was, but I was very grateful in having this opportunity to look back on a period of time that for some is Irish History, but for others including some of our parents and grandparents, is just their childhood.
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Maurice O'Callaghan wrote, produced and directed this piece about "The Troubles" in 1950's rural Ireland.
powrpc2 January 2000
Maurice O'Callaghan wrote, produced and directed this piece about "The Troubles" in 1950's rural Ireland. Broken Harvest is a strong story involving the left-over emotions and unfinished business from the Irish Civil War in the early 1920's. The story is a retrospective look back at Ireland--by an Irish emigrant--triggered by the death of his mother in present day New York City.

The main protagonists in this drama are Art O'Leary played by Colin Lane and Josie McCarthy played by Niall O'Brien. Both men had fought for independence against the British where they were pitted against each other in the ensuing civil war, following the partition of Ireland. They both have differing opinions about how Ireland should be governed. The other underlying contest that exists between the two men is Art O'Leary's wife, whom both men had courted in their youth.

The story is told mostly through the eyes and ears of young Jimmy O'Leary at the age of 14. Here lies the real strength of the movie. Darren McHugh and Joy Florish, who play teenage love interests, give two outstanding performances in the film. Their interaction is natural and very convincing. Colin Lane and Marian Quinn give the other strong performances. They struggle with raising their son, tending a farm and keeping the sheriff from their doorstep.

What the movie lacks is cohesiveness. Partially due to the extensive time in the making, (over ten years) the movie is jerky. No doubt there could have been better editing which could have yielded better flow and watchability for the audience. This movie was funded over time by Maurice O'Callaghan and this may partly be the reason for the long filming time and jerkiness of the tale.

Broken Harvest is the type of movie that must watched intently. It is a dark brooding film about a confusing, problematic time in Irish history that still plagues Ireland today. As in most Irish films you must first appreciate the history in order to understand the characters and their views.
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Great film about broken dreams
mbgawron5 November 2004
Noticed this film at the library and watched it. It was wonderful, very emotional, and it had me crying several times. It starts and ends in the present, but most of the movie is in the past, specifically post-Civil War in Ireland.

There is a dreamy, old-fashioned sense to this movie. It evokes rural Ireland of the past quite well. The characters seem driven by Fate in their actions, and the metaphor of potential harvest and realizing one dreams and hopes is powerful. Bewitching scenery dominates the film, and it made Ireland seem so breathtakingly beautiful, yet sad as the tale comes to its unavoidable end.

I would give this film a very high rating, at least an 8.0; can't believe someone would only rate this a 4.0.
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