During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.
1987, love in time of war. A bus driver George Lennox meets Carla, a Nicaraguan exile living a precarious, profoundly sad life in Glasgow. Her back is scarred, her boyfriend missing, her ... See full summary »
1932. Jimmy Gralton is back home in the Irish countryside after ten years of forced exile in the USA. His widowed mother Alice is happy, Jimmy's friends are happy, all the young people who enjoy dancing and singing are happy. Which is not the case of Father Sheridan, the local priest, nor of the village squire, nor of Dennis O'Keefe, the chief of the fascists. The reason is simple: Jimmy is a socialist activist. So when the "intruder" reopens the village hall, thus enabling the villagers to gather to sing, dance, paint, study or box, they take a dim view of the whole thing. People who think and unite are difficult to manipulate, aren't they? From that moment on they will use every means possible to get rid of Jimmy and his "dangerous" hall.Written by
The real Jimmy Gralton was the only Irishman ever deported from Ireland after Irish Independence. After the release of the film, a campaign (including an online petition) was started with the aim to rescind the deportation order and extend an official apology to his family. See more »
Tobacco consumption (cigarettes, snuff and pipes) was extremely widespread at the time, yet none of the characters are seen to smoke, even at raucous social occasions. See more »
This movie opposes two different and opposed views of the world: that of Jimmy Gralton, who apart from wanting to open a dance hall, is also a left-wing idealist. Although Ken Loach makes not mystery of his sympathies in this movie, as usual he remains even-handed, lets the opposition have their say, and never makes the conservative side appear as ridiculous or stupid. In fact the heart of the movie is the confrontation between Jimmy Gralton and Father Sheridan, which despite the depth of conflict, is fundamentally based on a grudging mutual respect.
What, indeed, could be wrong with opening a dance hall and cultural center? Well in the thirties Ireland was recovering from years of bloody conflict, first the war for independence, followed by more years of civil war. Father Sheridan argues that now is the time for reconciliation, not for political agitation, and what he sees as communist propaganda. It is time for being Irish together, for listening to Irish music rather than "alien Jazz from deepest Africa".
Of course the Loach's sympathy (and ours) goes to the yearning of the young people who have no place to go, no prospects, no jobs, and who desperately want to find some joy, relief and self-expression. The movie may be a bit slow at times, but it is deeply moving.
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