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Review By sirpeterjames.com
Here is an oldie, filmed in 1970 in breathtaking locations by masters of cinematography.
The location was largely Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. But the beach scenes were filmed on Long Beach, south of Noordhoek, Cape Town, South Africa.
The movie won two Oscars and six other awards and was a box office hit, grossing $31m. ($230m in today’s money value.)
David Lean (Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge over The River Kwai.) directed the movie. Starring Robert Mitchum (Charles Shaunessy) and Sarah Miles (Rosie Ryan.)
The timeline was 1917-1918 Ireland.
The storyline principally takes place in both Rosie and Charles’s lives’; it also includes Rosie’s lover, Major Randolph Doryan, a shell-shocked British army officer. Rosie’s father, Tom Ryan, the village publican, and a fiery Catholic Priest, Father Hugh Collins. These individuals are part of a community of people in a tiny village. It was at the birth of the IRA and the War of Independence in Ireland.
The plot embraces Charles, a schoolteacher who was in a state of prolonged grieving at the loss of a wife he dearly loved. Charles seeks solace in the simple life of living in a cottage attached to the schoolroom. He is a man who loves and cares for his scholars and their growth. Charles has lost any ability to deal with romantic love.
Rosie is an attractive young woman, whom it appeared, was accustomed to having her way. She was the daughter of Tom, a successful publican, and his somewhat dubious activities with the British officers, based in the village. Like Charles, her father was also a grieving widower. Unlike Charles, though, he sought solace in taking a commanding role among the community, which included a support role to the IRA effort and was an agent for the British soldiers in the village. In today’s terms, he might be referred to as a ‘double agent’ operating for and against Ireland.
Rosie, who, on account of her beauty, youth, and privileged upbringing, was not popular with the local ladies of the village. They saw Rosie more in the light of an advantaged competitor than a community member.
Rosie pursued Charles with the typical juxtaposed style of a little girl seeking protection and a mature woman wanting to realize her passion. Her marriage to a secular celibate, Charles, bitterly disappointed Rosie. She was expecting a fiery romantic engagement with her man. Charles, a genuine man, who awoke to the fact that he was never the man for Rosie, took the blame for entering into a marriage devoid of romantic passion on his part.
Enter Major Randolph, a young man, the epitome of quiet strength and hidden fiery passion. Yet, Randolph suffers a lame leg and, equally, a damaged mind, suffering from what might be referred to today as ‘post-traumatic stress’ or ‘shell shock’ as it was known then. The two find solace and excitement in their closet of passionate sexual encounters. Through masterful film-play, these scenes vividly display themselves.
Charles receives the first inkling of his wife’s infidelity through an innocent discovery of footprints in the sand along the beach. A day outing on the beach with his young scholars brings suspicion into his mind. The seed germinates as discovery reveals her play, and in the final resolution, Charles accepts that Rosie has found romance for which she has been seeking!
To give powerful meaning to the expression, a change of subject,’ the stage shifts to the Eastern shoreline of Kerry and a raging storm. The IRA are waiting for a shipment of arms and explosives coming from Germany and all the Dingle villagers. The ship crashes into the rocks and sinks. The villagers, women, men, and children risk their lives to recover guns, explosives, and other armaments, load them onto a truck waiting to drive into the hinterland, and hide the cache.
What happens to the shipment of armaments?
What happens to Rosie when the community blames her for being an informer?
What happens to Major Randolph?
What happens to Charles?
Well, well, well.
When you watch the movie, you will ‘surely’ find out.
In conclusion, there is always the human temptation to judge the characters on their behavior.
Let’s take a look at this aspect.
Firstly, my personal view is: Never judge any other human, ever. The judgment of humans is the work of human judges and God alone.
Rosie was not a ‘bad’ woman. Could she just have been a young woman whose choices were unwise?
Charles yielded to Rosie’s approaches because of his compassion for her. Was he unwise in doing so?
No one can assess Major Randolph’s war experience unless they were in his shoes. However, allowing his passion for ruling his better judgment, caused a shocking reaction among the community. What bears consideration is, would the relationship between Rosie and Charles have brought about a better understanding between them, because of this affair? “You will hear the words of Father Collins to Charles as they board the bus, ‘His doubt that Rosie and Charles should end their marriage.’
Tom Ryan was an informer to the British soldiers and then watched his daughter brutalized for his silence. Did his wisdom suggest that after her horrific experience, she and Charles would have a better relationship, and life for all would return to normal after?
By today’s standards, the movie might be considered as ‘slow,’ but be patient – it’s so worth hanging in there. The characters are fascinating; the scenery is magnificent.
Ireland has suffered much from being tormented by those who subjected them to slavery, brutality, and poverty. Her people rose to their liberty, and today they enjoy the reputation of a special kind of people who have traveled to all points of the globe to establish their brand of Ireland, Irishness, and especially Guinness!
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