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RYAN’S DAUGHTER

Director: DAVID LEAN

U.K. • 1970 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • 206 MIN


Ireland, 1916. ‘Don’t nurse your wishes,’ Father Collins (Trevor Howard) tells Rosie (Sarah Miles), whose marriage to a stolid schoolteacher (Robert Mitchum) is stuck in a groove, ‘or, sure to God, you’ll get what you’re wishing for.’ Enter a shell-shocked British officer (Christopher Jones), the answer to Rosie’s dreams but the start of her troubles as her adulterous affair becomes fraternisation with the enemy.
Rosie is a romantic in extremis, and director David Lean and cameraman Freddie Young provide dazzling imagery to reflect her tempestuous personality—pounding waves, medieval towers, sea caves, sheltered groves. With nature at its most elemental (the storm sequence is tremendous), the film seems close in spirit to the passion of one of Lean’s early mentors, Michael Powell; and the astounding placing of figures against a landscape evokes Thomas Hardy. Depicting humanity at its most pitiable and grotesque, the cast is uniformly fine. John Mills won an Oscar for his mute hunchback; Trevor Howard’s priest purportedly moved Graham Greene to tears.—Neil Sinyard.

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