Irish Film Institute -Bishop’s Story, The

Bishop’s Story, The

Director: Bob Quinn

Six years after launching a ‘work in progress’ under the title Budawanny, Bob Quinn has finally achieved the film he originally wrote. But this is no ‘director’s cut’. While having major elements in ocmmon with the earlier film. The Bishops Story is enhanced by new material for the ‘contemporary’ framing sequences: by sound dialogue – Budawanny used inter-titles in the fashion of a ‘silent’ film; and by Donal McCann playing the part of the world-wary Bishop. McCann – the curate in the material shot five years ago – playing the part of the bishop has added a layer of significance lacking in Budawanny.
Despite the resonance of the title, The Bishop’s Story is not some cynical working of recent episcopal events, though it must be said, the prescience of Padraic Standuin’s original story was remarkable. Quinn regards the film s a love story, one which is revealed through conversations between an elderely Bishop and a younger priest in a retreat house catering for troubled religious. The Bishop is a returned missionary who as a young curate on a remote island has an affair, the tragic outcome of which, profundly changed his beliefs.
If this is a particular bishop’s story, the film also succeeds as the story of a community, one of which is viewed by Quinn with a respectful and affectionate eye. In their observation of his local, non-professional, actors, Quinn And cameraman Seamus Deasy portray them with qualities of humanity and nobility reminiscent of the photography of Walker Evens. Bob Quinn describes The Bishops Story as a return to, and homage to the purity of early cinema. In this regard he is well served by Deasy’s splendid cinematography which, in luminous black and white, imparts, what is at imes, a magnificence to the film, with the ‘contemporary’ black and white 35mm sequences alternating with the sepia toned ‘historical’ material shot on 16mm stock.
Bob Quinn And producer Tom Collins (hush-A-Bye-Baby) are to be congratulated in their persverance in bringing to the screen this new work. The film is a wonderful blend of the narrative and the visual, combining a contemporary story with timeless images. It amply demonstrates the rich possibilities of an indigenous Irish Cinema, one which in the telling of a story achieves art. The Bishop’s Story some ten years in evolution, has been well worth the wait.

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