Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day is almost here...

Did you know that Saint Patrick was not Irish, and he never drove a single snake from Ireland? In fact, Ireland never had any snakes; however, Ireland did have a strong pagan tradition that considered the snake sacred. The Irish legend about St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland really refers to his driving the old pagan religion out of Ireland. Keep that in mind this Saint Patrick’s Day.

In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, Historybusters has a few movie recommendations.

Patrick is a fine documentary that doesn’t recount the simple folk myths about Saint Patrick. Instead, this documentary, narrated by Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne, offers a dramatic new look at one of the best-loved and least-understood icons of world religion. The story of the real St. Patrick is part adventure tale and part spiritual awakening with the future saint rising from slave to liberator; learning to forgive and ultimately love his enemies; taking up a cause no one believed in; and finally lighting a fire that kept western civilization alive. This film is very family friendly.

St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland is another fine documentary about the life of the real Saint Patrick. Only two documents written by Patrick, the Confession and his Letter to Coroticus, an Irish warlord, remain to tell us about this important man. Yet these brief writings captured his emotional state, his innermost feelings, and his aspirations. Read in voice-over and mixed with evocative music and gorgeous photography, Patrick’s words carry the viewer back in time to re-live the experience of walking side by side with him. From his birth to his death, viewers are able to witness Patrick’s physical struggles and to participate fully in his transformation and spiritual mission. For those interested in the topic, it is an entrancing piece of work and very family friendly.

Fun Fact about Saint Patty’s Day: In Ireland, those of the Protestant faith do not wear green to honor the day. They wear Orange in honor of William of Orange and their Protestant faith.

To help you understand a bit more about the fight between the Protestant Orange and the Catholic Green here are five more films that we would like to recommend in honor of the day:

Michael Collins
Irish writer-director Neil Jordan tackles the controversial biography of IRA member Michael Collins, one of Ireland’s most important 20th century political leaders, in a lavish film that won critical acclaim on both continents. The film follows Collins as he matures from guerrilla fighter to national statesman, creating a vivid portrait of 1920’s Ireland and its politics. Michael Collins is a wonderfully accurate and superbly crafted film, featuring performances by Liam Neeson, Julia Roberts, Allen Rickman, Aidan Quinn, and Stephan Rae. It does contain mature content.

In the Name of the Father is a 1993 film directed by Jim Sheridan based on the true life story of the Guildford Four, four people falsely convicted of the IRA's Guildford pub bombing which killed 4 off-duty British soldiers and a civilian. The screenplay was adapted by Terry George and Jim Sheridan from the autobiography Proved Innocent by Gerry Conlon. It is a powerful film that contains mature content.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Set during the early days of the Irish Republican Army, The Wind That Shakes the Barley provides a mesmerizing look at the profound emotional transitions a fictional young doctor goes through on his road to becoming a saboteur and killer. Providing excellent background into the birth and existence of the IRA, this outstanding film contains mature content.

January 30, 1972, is known as Bloody Sunday in Ireland. Named for the protest that took a violent turn in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. British paratroopers, trying to restore order after a particularly unruly period of unrest, opened fire on a peaceful demonstration; fourteen Irish Catholic civil-rights protesters died. Based Don Mullan's politically influential book Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, this is the definite film about a tragedy most American’s only know about from U2's song "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Filmed in such a way as to make the audience feels that they are there, this truly fine film contains mature content.
The Secret of Roan Inish is technically not history. In fact, it is pure kid friendly fantasy. However, it provides such a delightful look at Irish folklore and life in post World War II Ireland that Historybusters can't help but recommend watching it this month.

And finally, if you are a fan of David Lean films, you should check out Ryan’s Daughter. Set in 1916 Ireland, this gorgeous film tells the story of an Irish girl who has an affair with a British officer during World War I, despite opposition from her nationalist neighbors. The film is a very loose adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary. It does contain mature content.

Hope you find time to sample some Irish history this month. Until next time, thanks and Happy Historybusting...

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