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Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison, in which IRA prisoner Bobby Sands led a protest against the treatment of IRA prisoners as criminals rather than as prisoners of war. The film focuses on the mothers of two of the strikers, and their struggle to save the lives of their sons. Written by
Alexander Lum <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was to have originally been a production of American Playhouse, a division of PBS, that would have co-financed the film with The Samuel Goldwyn Company. However the folding of the American Playhouse label combined with Goldwyn's financial troubles led to the film going into turnaround, where it was eventually produced by Castle Rock Entertainment. See more »
Outside the prison you can clearly see an Austin Metro Mk2 which was not released till late 1984. This film is based in 1981. See more »
We want to make the prisons an asset, not a liability. It is in the prisons that we will break the backs of the IRA.
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I saw this film when it first came out but after reading two rather diverse but equally recommended books on the subject ("Ten men dead" by David Beresford and "Nor Meekly serve my time" Edited by Brian Campbell, Laurence McKeown and Felim O'Hagen) , I figured I'd like to see it again.
The story portrayed in the film echoes the 2nd book in particular so closely at times that I expected to see the three men credited (They were actually H Block prisoners who took part in the protest and hunger strikes themselves). Of course from that perspective it is understandable that some would claim that it tends towards bias or discriminates towards a one sided view on a very complex issue.
The reality of the film is that whilst the majority of the characters save Bobby Sands are fictional, many of them, with just a little background reading are recognisable as real life people such as Fr Denis Faul, Bik McFarlane, "The Mounain Climber" and a composite of Gerry Adams/Danny Morrison.
It is a charge fairly frequently levelled at Jim Sheridan that he embellishes or takes liberty with factual real events such as in Michael Collins or In America - However, that is usually levelled by someone with an obvious axe to grind or viewing from an opposite perspective. So whilst it is desirable for a good film to document even real facts in an understandable way in less than two hours it is also nice to be entertained and have your curiosity aroused so that you can read further on the subject if you so desire. Some Mothers Son is probably one of these types of movies where the viewer's experience and insight is best enhanced by prior knowledge or at least some background of the events which out of necessity the film is compelled to synopsise and simplify some times.
The facts surrounding this turbulent period in Northern Irish history is that after a prolonged "dirty protest" to be recognised as prisoners of war instead of criminals or terrorists, in 1981 the republican H-Block prison inmates embarked on a hunger strike which by the time it had ended some 6 months later had seen ten of them die but more significantly for the republican movement in NI had seen a wider world focus on them and also had seen a new dawn towards the use of the ballot box instead of the Armalite assault rifle as a means to an end by Sin Fein/IRA which 25 years later is culminating in an electorally strong Sinn Fein and a decommissioned largely stood down IRA.
All in all therefore, as a pen picture which goes some way towards giving one a basic insight into the Northern Ireland Hunger strike of 1981 it does a good job which is greatly helped by very good performances by Helen Mirren, Fionnula O Flanigan Gerald McSorley and John Lynch in particular. Oh and if the soundtrack sounds vaguely familiar it may be because it is by Bill Whelan of Riverdance fame.
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