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Films That Defined Us – Irish Films

August 13, 2010

As part of the Go, See, Talk! “Films That Defined Us” multi-blog-a-thon, created by Marc V. Ciafardini, I have compiled a list (in no particular order) of eight Irish films. Rather than providing an individual explanation of each choice, my eight selections hold a common reason for appearing on this list. Their importance lies, for me, not only in the fact that they define a particular era of film-making in and/or about Ireland, but they also each define, through their subject matter, a particular moment in Irish history, ranging from the control of the Catholic Church to the cloud of the 1980s recession and so forth. Each film offers a pre-Celtic Tiger and pre-internet age peek of Ireland, as well as early performances by actors who would continue on to become established and revered for their art.

1. My Left Foot (1989)


2. In the Name of the Father (1993)


3. The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

4. The General (1998)

5. Into the West (1992)


6. The Field (1990)

7. The Boxer (1997)

8. The Committments (1991)

28 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2010 10:32 am

    Great selection:) Love them all! Particularly, the Commitments, which is such a great indication of what Ireland was like in 1990. I’ll never forget watching it in the cinema, sitting there in my purple paisley shirt (yes I was very cool at the time!) It’s one of the greatest comedies ever, complete with a fantastic, fantastic soundtrack. To me, it definitely stands the test of time and a great reminder of what Ireland was like 20 years ago.

    • August 15, 2010 9:57 am

      @Olive That sounds like a very, verrrrry memorable shirt. Did you complement the outfit with a pair of fringed bicycle gloves?
      It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed – It’s only when I go back and watch some of the films from the 90s that I remember how much Ireland has changed in certain ways.

  2. August 13, 2010 3:51 pm

    I am suprised so few people talk about “In the name of the father”(1993) these days, as its such a powerful film. Nice to find a fellow fan. I will be reviewing that one on my blog at some point.

    I admired the performance in My Left Foot (1989), but it didn’t grab me on an emotional level for some reason. Maybe the curse of a movie-reviewer, having seen too many films at the time.

    You know “Inside I’m dancing” (2004) was filmed in Dublin, themes not so much about being Irish, though

    • August 15, 2010 10:04 am

      @moviesandsongs365 I’ll keep an eye out for your review 🙂
      Yep, I certainly am aware of Inside I’m Dancing and its Irish connections. However, I felt that some of the films made from 2004ish on were a little to recent to include on this list. I’d be interested to read any review you might have on The Eclipse (and not the Edward Cullen one!). The only thing I liked about the film were the scenes featuring places like Fota and Cork Harbour – Other than that, I felt it was fairly poor, in spite of the fact that it contained the wonderful Ciarán Hinds. I’m surprised to hear so many film bloggers expressing their love for the film!

  3. August 13, 2010 7:20 pm

    If the rest of these are as good as “In the Name of the Father” (which I think is fantastic) then I know what 7 movies I’m getting ready for next Year’s St. Patrick’s Day Weekend. Thanks for participating Roisin:)

    • August 15, 2010 10:07 am

      @Marc I’d definitely recommend these for St Patrick’s Weekend viewing! Thanks for allowing me to take part in this blogathon – I enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane. It has actually made me want to go back and watch each one of these. I’d forgotten the effect they had on me in my youth. Looking forward to the next blogathon!

  4. August 15, 2010 1:58 pm

    I didn’t have time to do this meme 😦

    Hmm…I haven’t watched any of those movies, Irish movies are so difficult to find.

    Btw, I just bought Ondine 🙂 looking forward to see and review it…I was surprise whe I found 2 Irish movies in the DVD shop, I hope there’ll be more

    • August 16, 2010 6:44 am

      @Novroz I haven’t watched it because of Colin Farrell’s attempt at the Cork accent…
      What was the second Irish film that you found in the DVD shop? 🙂

    • August 16, 2010 8:08 am

      What’s wrong with his Cork’s accent? is it bad?

      Collin is actually my least favorite Irishmen…but the movie’s synopsis looks promosing so I bought it anyway.

      Hehehe the other one is the reason I start looking for Irish movie in the store, Ondine is a bonus I found after finding the movie I’m looking for. Let me give you 2 clues : Cillian Murphy and Brendon Gleeson 🙂 …but it’s not a great movie, I only give it 2stars meaning it was okay.

      • August 16, 2010 6:45 pm

        @Novroz It’s worse than bad!!

        Murphy and Gleeson…Is it Perrier’s Bounty? Or it could be Breakfast on Pluto!

      • August 16, 2010 10:21 pm

        I only give it 2 stars 😉 I give Breakfast on Pluto 5 stars…so the movie is Perrier’s Bounty.

        Just saw Ondine last night. Compare to Cillian (since the person I know who speak in Cork Accent is only Cillian), Colin does sound a bit different, like he’s trying so hard to sound like Cork.

        But he wont IFTA award for that movie right?

  5. August 16, 2010 12:35 am

    I’m absolutely in love with The Commitments. I remember my mom having such a hard time understanding through the thick dialect, but I could always explain it to her. The music alone is just damn incredible. I am also in great desire to see My Left Foot which I’ve had highly recommended to me over the years. Very different and very interesting compilation you have here!

    • August 16, 2010 6:47 am

      @Heather I’d recommend all of them. The General is probably the most accessible. Daniel Day Lewis unintentionally featured widely in this list!

  6. August 16, 2010 7:46 am

    No interMission? I’m hurt. But it is, otherwise a deadly list. Particularly The General (despite the WTF casting iof Jon Voight as a Garda).

    • August 16, 2010 6:48 pm

      @Darren Like “Inside I’m dancing”, I thought Intermission would be too recent – I thought I better halt at 2002 for my ‘impressionable years’!

  7. August 17, 2010 1:16 pm

    I’ve reviewed In the name of the father, if you’re interested, your post inspired me ( :

  8. September 2, 2010 1:15 am

    Awesome, Roisin, choices close to your heart, that’s the way to do it. Wow, 3 movies featuring Daniel Day-Lewis… I just realized he’s an Irish citizen. I’ve only seen In the Name of the Father, and it’s a tremendous film indeed, hard to watch at times though.

    • September 2, 2010 9:26 am

      These films featured widely in my childhood and teens (and this could also probably be said for other Irish people born in the 1980s), so I felt that the list would have to focus on them. A few of them can be quite harrowing, but the darkest one would have to be the “The Magdalene Sisters”.

  9. September 6, 2010 11:00 am

    The Quiet Man?

    • September 6, 2010 11:41 am

      Indeed. Another great classic. As this was part of a meme, I needed to whittle the list down to eight films which played the biggest part in my early film-viewing years – Sadly, The Quiet Man featured a little later than that. Along with Bette Davis and Frances Farmer, I’ve always been fascinated with Maureen O’ Hara!

  10. September 15, 2010 11:42 am

    Hey Roisin. I found the Magdalene Sisters a very difficult film to watch in places. I don’t regret seeing it but I think aspects of the story, and some scenes in particular, were quite manipulative and a lot of it felt pretty one-sided. What I did find encouraging though, was that it said at the end of the film that in spite of what she had experienced, one of the girls portrayed in the film still practiced her faith as a grown woman. I think this emphasizes an important point about abuse, that it is very much perpetrated by an idividual or a group of individuals and that those individuals unfortunately betray the spirit and the ideals of the institution they represent, which is subsequently, and unsurprisingly, seen in a negative light, which I think is sad.

  11. September 23, 2010 8:13 am

    I saw an Irish film this year that I loved, called “Kisses.” What did anyone else think of that? – Terry.

    • September 23, 2010 11:34 am

      @MichaelAndTerrance I’m afraid I’m don’t have a lot to offer on that one, as I’ve yet to see it. I remember when it was released though and it got great reviews at the time. It’s definitely on my “to watch” list – The clips I’ve watched so far have been really good. I’m a little curious to watch “His & Hers” too – Another film which has received great reviews.

  12. September 28, 2010 3:11 pm

    Brilliant collection. I out-right love every film you mentioned here.

    • September 29, 2010 10:24 am

      Thanks. I probably should rename it the Daniel Day-Lewis List!
      Fortunately many of these films were often shown on our stations RTE and Network 2 throughout the 90s, and some still appear now and then.

  13. September 29, 2010 4:12 pm

    Awesome! Sadly, I haven’t seen any of them. 😦 I will certainly have to watch them all!

    I know it wouldn’t be a fit for your list, but I was wondering how you felt about Waking Ned Devine. Not really a probing philosophical exploration, but definitely a fun movie. 🙂

    • September 29, 2010 5:44 pm

      I’d definitely recommend each one of them.

      Well, I absolutely love David Kelly and W.N.D. is no exception – In fact, I really should devote a blog post to the man. Now there’s an idea…

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