Black 47 2018 movie

Black ’47 – The Rage and Hunger of 1800s Ireland

Hunger and desperation can push a man to do anything, especially when family is at stake, as it is for the protagonist of this 2018 movie, Black ’47.

It all begins in Ireland in 1847, at the height of the terrible Famine, when Martin Feeney, a Connaught Ranger, returns to his homeland of Connemara.

The atrocious death of his mother from starvation and the hanging of his brother, guilty of stabbing an officer during the family’s deportation, traumatize him, and the former soldier finds relief with Ellie, his brother’s consort, planning to start a new life in America with her children.

Their dream of a new beginning collapse when they must leave the cottage, while the nephew dies and cops arrest Feeney.

However, he quickly escapes from police headquarters, brutally killing several men and alarming the British authorities, who assign Captain Pope to arrest him.

Pope is a haughty young officer, yet he realizes he cannot do it alone, seeking the help of Hannah, a former wartime comrade of Feeney’s who was waiting to be hanged for killing a witness during an interrogation.

Although he has mixed feelings, since Feeney had saved his life in Afghanistan, the prospect of avoiding the gallows prompts Hannah to cooperate.

Meanwhile, Feeney, thirsting for revenge, targets those he blames for his family’s misfortunes, seeking the only justice he knows through violence.

The British soldiers are better armed and superior in numbers, but he knows the region perfectly well, having been born and raised there, and possesses excellent cunning in catching his victims by surprise.

Moreover, given the British’s abuse, much of the population is on his side; and even the tough and cynical Hannah is not entirely convinced that he wishes him to be captured.

Welcome to tough Ireland

Black ’47 is a compelling 2018 movie seeking adventure with deep and honorable authenticity, not limited to historical drama, but becoming a hybrid with the qualities of an unconventional Western.

The outline between heroes and villains is unclear, blurring in the gray areas of subjective morality and individual perspective.

Indeed, although our sympathy obviously goes to the unfortunate and persecuted Feeney, a military veteran smashed by injustice, even he admits his past is far from innocence, yet tainted by unforgivable actions.

Just look at his first confrontation with Hannah, in the middle of the night and with a gun pointed in his face, when he remorselessly states, “If I kill, they call it murder; when they do it, they call it war.

With decisiveness and resourcefulness, the director Lance Daly drags viewers into the heart of a poor and hungry Ireland, as if that were not enough, also continually despoiled by British domination.

The desaturated photography in the broad wasteland landscapes of the Irish countryside is a far cry from the colored lights of Hollywood or the more refined feel typical of European cinema, recalling the harsh reality of genuine Irish places such as Kildare, Wicklow, Galway, and Connemara.

Eugene O’Brien, P.J. Dillon, and Pierce Ryan, a close-knit trio of screenwriters, work together to depict a violent and bitter plot with a pessimistic and shocking outlook on humanity, with even the trilingual use of dialogue-Irish and Gaelic against the English invader, witnessing a proud attachment to their cultural identity.

It is essential to remember; moreover, the action sequences are never over-the-top or drawn out too long. Instead, the director stages duels and shootouts with maximum precision and speed with a powerful emotional impact through a compact cinematic language of almost palpable blood and suffering.

The language of silent gazes

What are the key figures in this drama of rage and revenge?

Obviously, the predominant shadow is that of James Frecheville, the lead actor, whose bearded, expressionless face remains etched in the viewer’s memory.

His portrayal of Feeney is impeccable, showing a man as silent as he actually seems to have much to tell with a tormented inner world that squeezes in a few words of dialog all the power of this character, as dry and essential as an efficient soldier.

With the entrance of Hugo Weaving as Hannah, the narrative elevates to an almost mythic level, turning the relations between the two friends, now enemies, into an epic duel.

Weaving, known for his roles in iconic characters such as Agent Smith in the Matrix saga and the wise Elrond in The Lord of the Rings, delivers outstanding performance from the very first moments when his character commits a brutal murder that seems to be born of weary despair rather than hatred.

The relationship between Feeney and Hannah, two honorable soldiers with traumatic battlefield experiences, highlights the harsh realities of war, far removed from the patriotic rhetoric often talked about by their superiors.

Prominent among these superiors is the cocky Captain Pope, played with cold conceit and elegance by Freddie Fox.

An officer who, as he says, has never been in battle, feeling almost grudge as if war and violence are something he looks forward to experiencing.

Finally, alongside Feeney, another character emerges who conveys the pure essence of Ireland, the poor Conneely, masterfully played by Stephen Rea.

This humble individual follows English to translate the words of the locals, who insist on keeping their language alive as a challenge to the unwelcome occupants.

Lance Daly successfully delivers a highly entertaining dark adventure, although Black 47 at the same time is a 2018 movie that imparts a huge history lesson. The psychology of the characters is exciting and complex; behind the silence and cold stares of men seemingly lost all trace of human mercy. But it is in this bleak landscape, however, that generosity and sacrifice become all the more important.

Amazon Prime Video
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