Initially people blamed the famine on greedy landlords for putting their houses on AirBnB but it was soon discovered that the government were hoarding houses and selling them abroad despite their own people dying on the streets.
Black 47, probably the most RIC complimentary film of the year, set to the backdrop of the Irish Potato Famines of 1845 and 1849 has a very similar feel to it. It’s not exactly a history movie. I think Tara Brady of the Irish Times puts it best when she says “it’s not spaghetti western, it’s a potato western”, which is a good indication of what to expect from this movie.
The story line is set around one man and his psychopath sidekick who travel through the west of Ireland without a word of Gaelic, to be honest there are parts of Connaught I wouldn’t go to now without brushing up on my cupla focail, not to mind going there in the 19th century sounding like a contestant from the great British bake off as the whole country was starving to death.
The English gentleman and his soldier hound are searching for an Irish Ranger who’s deserted the army. The ranger equipped with his Rambo knife and gritty stares is causing havoc in lawless towns, galloping around on Shergar Fado Fado through beautiful sweeping landscapes and low budget CGI.
The movie let’s itself down by focusing too much on the “potato western” gun slinging shootouts and omits to connect to the audience on an emotional level. For me it’s not dark enough to earn the title ‘Black’ as there is a lack of poignant scenes that leave you spellbound.
Perhaps Irish people of the time didn’t cry, I have a 2nd cousin who still thinks hugging other men is gay so maybe it’s true to the time, but I’d bet my last bitcoin that there were more tears shed in 1847 than this movie depicts, after all one million people died of starvation....that’s not a joke, let that sink in for a while, then think about another one million people who were forced to immigrate on coffin ships, then think about hugging your cousin next time you see him Ray.
The script is the movies saving point, well written, surprisingly funny in parts and the accents have a deep Irish authenticity without coming across as half witted youtube mock-ups. The film honours Irish culture and makes an approachable effort to visit the history and the tragedy of the famine. In that sense it’s a worthwhile watch, but from a standalone point of view it’s not going to stack up with other releases this year or other great Irish movies with an historical setting.
In summary worth a watch if you want to see a movie about the famine but not worth recommending otherwise.