Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire (Lament for Arthur Leary)

Director: Bob Quinn

Following in the footsteps of James Joyce and Flann O’Brien, Bob Quinn blended postmodern scepticism of official narratives with visions of Irish history in this film. Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire begins as the story of a group of unruly players who refuse the orders of their British director (John Arden) as he orchestrates a dramatic retelling of the life of Irish rebel Art O’Leary. Intercut with this is the troupe’s performance of O’Leary’s story; parallels between the two narratives quickly mount up, with the actor taking the part of O’Leary (Séan Bán Breathnach) facing down the director in both of the film’s narratives. Avowedly nationalist in his politics, the skill with which Quinn juggles his twin narratives is remarkable and was, at the time, near-unprecedented in Irish cinema.  

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