Broken Harvest

Director: Maurice O'Callaghan

We’re pleased to provide another chance to se Broken Harvest, which hasn’t’ played since its successful opening last year. A powerful and heartfelt dramatisation of some crucial Irish conflicts, Maurice O’callaghan’s film must count as one of the most ambitious independent features masde in this country. Set in 1950’s rural Cork, the story touches on just about every important issue of the day but never reads like a history lesson because it’s all filtered by memory and presented through the innocent eyes of a youster. Jimmy O’Leary is so captivated by things American and youthful pranks tht he’s barely aware of his country’s turbulent past and its lingering aftermath until a childish misdemeanour brings all the old conflicts to the surface. Arthur, Jimmy’s proud Republican father, was a hero of the war of independence but ended up on the losing side in the bitter civil war. He strggles to make ends meetand finds himself in conflict with wealthy farmer Josie, an old political enemy and romantic rival for the love of Catherine. Jimmy’s theft of a shilling causes embarrassment, first to Josie and then to Arthur, bringing to a head the feud between the two men.
Although beartifully photographed (by Jack Conroy, who also shot The Field), performed and scored, O’Callaghan’s film doesn’t shrink from capturing something of the harshness and divisiveness of the period. As critic Paul Ryan has noted, this is De Valera’s timid new world, a backward-looking, parochial country obsessed with its past and resistant to change. It is a place so insular as to be hermetically sealed off from the larger world outside; Jimmy’s favourite comic strip, ‘Roy of the Rovers’, is dismissed as ‘foreign trash,’ the wireless is permanently tuned to Radio Eireann, and the lachrymose Irish ballads have pride of place on the gramophone.

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