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At first, I thought this film was going to be a shameless copy of "The
Secret of Roan Inish" but I'm glad I rode out the first few minutes of
doubt. "The Seventh Stream" takes a different turn and becomes a
little film in its own right. Particularly effective are the performances:
Scott Glenn (who's getting to resemble John Hurt in his mature years) is
moving as the lonely and dour widower Quinn, and Saffron Burrows is
excellent as the selkie Mairead. Ms. Burrows is perfect for the role --
she's tall, stunning and has an unearthly quality about her that serves
well. Fiona Shaw, as always, is excellent as the unrequited admirer of
The film is also worth watching for the gorgeous west of Ireland scenery. The brooding and starkly beautiful landscape, accompanied by the understated musical score, create a distinctly Celtic mood.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS - This film, "The Seventh Stream" is a throwback to a slower kind
of movie with good character development and a fine story which unfolds
unfailingly and gradually. It is set on the Irish coast, and is a fairy tale
on the myth that certain seals, during occasional weather patterns which
result in a "seventh stream", can come out of their skins and assume human
form. Scott Glen, an American, plays the central human character, fisherman
Quinn, who had lost his wife at sea 5 years ago. The seal turned woman is
played by British actress Saffron Burrows.
As fate would have it, a selfish and uncaring fisherman finds her skin and brings it to his home. Legend has it that she belongs to him, as long as he has the skin. And, she cannot return to the sea unless she can get her skin back. Suddenly, he is catching boatloads of fish as others try to just keep from starving. But she and others realize he is not a good man. His blind father, keeper of the myths, realizes that and moves the skin to Quinn's property, so she goes to be with him, not quite realizing why.
The story in the end is one which has been done often. Is it better to be safe and unfulfilled, or risk everything for a better life? "Chicken Run." "The Truman Show." "Pleasantville". Plus many others. By the time she gets her skin back, she has experienced human life, what it means to have memories, love, and happiness. She wants to stay with Quinn, knowing if she does that she must die shortly. Quinn loves her too, and cannot just watch her die. So, when the Seventh Stream is about to return, he takes her out to sea.
In the end, fate must prevail. She returns to the sea, he has regained his zest for life, and the fishing is good. A sweet story, not too syrupy, great scenery, great craggy faces, overall a good telling of a fairy tale.
...On a much smaller and more manageable scale. It is so beautiful to see and hear that one can almost smell the salt air. Saffron Burrows gives a surprisingly subtle and nuanced performance, easily the equal of her more experienced cast members. The weakest offering was that on whom the entire enterprise pivots, Scott Glenn, playing Owen Quinn. Here, a range of emotion was require that he did not seem to be able to muster. But the rest of the production was so compelling as to make the whole unsinkable. As for being able to suspend disbelief well enough to entertain the essential fantasy; remember that this story takes place in the land of leprechauns before the coming of such wonders as the horseless carriage!
I've always loved the old legends ... this movie is not for everyone unless you enjoy fantasy, romance and story-telling. The beautiful landscape of Ireland once again lends itself to the magic and legends of the Celtic people ... much as it did in "The Secret of Roan Inish" (with Jeni Courtney).
This movie is the epitome of romance. Scott Glenn and Saffron Burrows have
chemistry that is undeniable.
The Seventh Stream is much like The Legend of Roane Eilish. The scenery, the sounds, the lighting, just like a day by the beach. I was totally mesmerized by the cinematography.
I am not professional reviewer and I don't write often about photography etc but this was one time that it needed mentioned.
I do know what I like and I really liked this movie. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. It touched my heart and I will be forever grateful for that touch.
"The Seventh Stream" is beautifully filmed with a deeply romantic score
and a story comes from the same vein of Irish folklore that inspired
1994's "Secret of Roan Inish," another good family movie but not, I
think, quite as atmospheric or nearly as moving as "The Seventh
Stream." Both films are based on the legend of the selkies - gray seals
who sometimes take human form, come ashore and interact with humans.
The production values are very superior for a made-for-cable flick.
Saffron Burrows is nothing short of remarkable as the seal-woman. Viewers drugged by the over-the-top acting styles of so many movies may find her performance too subdued, too quiet, but that's their problem. Some kind of emotion is constantly flickering across her face, which is amazingly expressive. She's by turns mysterious, cold, curious, sultry, beautiful, vulnerable, weird - everything you'd expect to see in a seal-girl.
In a less fascinating role, Scott Glenn too is convincing and sympathetic as the hardscrabble middle-aged fisherman to whom the selkie turns for help. There's a lot of talk about the human heart, none of it sappy. Aside from one or two minor cultural goofs that few will care about, the film depicts pretty plausibly life in an Irish fishing village a hundred years ago.
There are also one or two minor directorial lapses. When fate deals unkindly with one of the characters, he cries out "Nooooooooooooooo!" in ultra slow-mo. Just like in The Simpsons and elsewhere. But the embarrassing moments take up about two minutes in total, and none is as bad as that.The rest of the film could hardly be improved on as a serious fairy tale for the whole family, unless your family is deeply into pro wrestling and stuff like that.
One of the most moving fantasy films I've seen, definitely not sugary or maudlin, and not oozing with CGI.
Check it out! I bet they were going to call it originally "The Seventh Seal," but found out that title was taken.
Irish mythology is probably not as well known in the world when
compared to Egyptian or Greek mythology, due that most of the rich set
of myths were lost after the country's conversion to Christianism;
however, while the myths of the ancient Celt religion did not survive
the change, many of its equally rich variety of legends and stories has
been preserved and still are part of the Irish culture and folklore.
Among this legends, are the tales about the existence of the Selkies,
legendary creatures able to transform themselves from seal to humans by
shedding their seal skins, and who like to visit fishing towns from
time to time in order to interact with humans. John Gray's "The Seventh
Stream" is a Television movie based on this particular Irish legend,
proving that film-making is probably the modern equivalent of the
ancient art of storytelling, and that the old myths are still pretty
Set in Ireland during the early 1900s, the movie is the story of Owen Quinn (Scott Glenn), an aging fisherman who 5 years after the dead of his wife, still can't move on with his life and spends most of his time alone, outside the town's society, mourning his loss. One night, a mysterious woman (Saffron Burrows) appears to him claiming to be a Selkie, and asks him to help her to recover her skin, which has been stolen by a local fisherman. Owen doesn't believe this at first, but when fish starts to be scarce and only his former apprentice Thomas Dunhill (John Lynch) seems unaffected, he starts to believe the woman's story. Helping the mysterious Selkie to find her way home, Owen discovers a new way to see life, and before he knows it, he falls in love with the strange woman. But it is said that romance with this creatures is always doomed.
Written by director John Gray (who is probably better known by his work on the TV series "Ghost Whisperer"), the story is very faithful to the Irish legends, and really offers a good representation of these kind of tales. Basically a romantic tragedy (like most of the Selkies' stories), the film is entirely focused on the character of Owen Quinn, and how his relationship with the Selkie (which he names Mairead) helps him to open his heart again and find a new happiness in his life. True, it's definitely a bit clichéd, but the slow, careful way Gray uses to build up his story (as well as it's interesting setting) give the story a fresh spin. The way the story presents life in a small Irish fishing town during the first decade of the 20th Century is also quite realistic, showing that a good effort in research was done by the writer.
As a director, John Gray opts for a very straight forward approach to his story, keeping true to the plot's essence by following the conventions of the romance melodrama almost to the letter. While this style it's truly fitting to the story (after all, it's a classic way of film-making) and Gray shows a great domain of the medium, it also shows some lack of imagination in the sense that it's very notorious that this is a movie made for Television. Despite this, Gray adds some really good elements to the film, such as the great use he gives to Seamus Deasy's cinematography. A native of Ireland himself, Deasy captures the magic of the Emerald Island in beautiful images that are also quite fitting for the TV screen. However, I think that Gray's best trait is his direction of actors, as in this movie, it is their performances what truly make the movie to stand out among the rest.
Scott Glenn is simply excellent as Owen Quinn, giving the character the necessary emotion and depth required. Many have criticized him for looking wooden or emotionless, but I find him really appropriate, as Quinn is not exactly a character prone to show his emotions. Safforn Burrows plays Mairead, the legendary Selkie who will change Quinn's life. While not really amazing, Burrows is effective and makes a good job. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by other cast members, her performance is truly worthy. The supporting cast is simply amazing, with every actor adding a lot of presence to the characters. Among them there are great performances by Fiona Shaw, John Lynch and Joseph Kelly; but the one who shines the most is definitely Eamon Morrissey as Owen's extroverted friend Willy. The perfect portrait of Irish's attitude, Morrissey steals every scene he is in with his natural charm.
"The Seventh Stream" has very good elements going for it, like really good acting, superb photography and Ernest Troost's wonderful score (better than the average for a TV film); however, the faithful way it follows the conventions of Television movies truly diminishes its quality. While Gray gives a good use to his low budget, he can't escape of the resource of episodic cliffhangers for commercial breaks, as this classic narrative devise is used in a very exaggerated and obvious way. As an experienced director of TV movies (with the excellent films "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" in his resumé), it's surprising that he left this flaw to be so notorious and damaging, although to his credit, it's truly the only thing that diminishes the value of his movie. I found "The Seventh Stream" to be a nice and good effort, but somehow I was expecting something more from Gray and Hallmark productions.
Overall "The Seventh Stream" is a very good story of romance with a beautiful Irish setting despite its problems. The really great performances by the cast and the wonderful cinematography really make up for the story's clichés (although after all, isn't that what we love about tragedies?) and the typical way the movie was done. It's not exactly a classic of the genre, but it's a nice and entertaining way to spend a rainy evening. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Scott Glenn provides the understated sense of loss & loneliness. It's
his burden in life. He covers so much with his eyes and simple
movements. Saffron Burrows well conveys- pardon the pun -the fish out
of water but with an awareness of the lives around her.
As the summary says: It's romance, folklore and rural life with it's prejudice. It's not complicated just a well presented story with good performances all around.
There's a song/story called 'Peter Kagen & the Wind.' I heard it performed by Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy in Dublin years ago. It was on the album of the concert but not on the CD. This is a version of that song.
For a TV movie, this is a real winner.
Gorgeous scenery, touching romance, examination of the avarice and evil of human nature and our redeeming qualities are all on offer. Bring your crying towel, because this will move you, and it is a romantic tragedy.
The cinematography is way above average for TV fare. If you like water scenes and boats, like I do, you're in for a treat, but don't expect lavish yachts. No, this is a tale set in a simple and beautiful Irish fishing village with men who wrest their living from the sea.
It has above average acting for TV, and I disagree with some of the other reviewers who have said that Scott Glenn didn't deliver. To the contrary, I thought his portrayal of a stricken widower deprived of his raison d'etre who we first see as a near recluse from society and then emerging from his hard shell of pain was very effective.
I own this on VHS, and I love it more every time I watch it. It's a rare find, but if you do run across it, do yourself a favor and give it a watch if you go in for romantic tragedies.
The plot, characters and location really made me sit through the movie. The scenes of Ireland's landscape, cottages, ocean and people were depicted wonderfully. The harness of their work as a fishing town opened the movie as the minister prayed for the return of the fish. There was definitely chemistry. And guess what, though there were underlying hints of more it was never revealed and did not take away from the movie. It is a love story bundled with grief, pain, hurt, magic, betrayal and then unselfish sacrifice. It pulls at the heart strings. When I speak of magic or legend this is what makes the movie interesting as we all learn the story of how, when and consequences of returning or not...cannot give away too much. So watch the movie.
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