There are multiple reasons why I have avoided this movie for so many years; the first is that when it came out I was only 9…but seriously, I thought that the picture on the front- a gazing shot of a mulleted Irish Man- was very reminiscent of a bad early 90’s movie, I also didn’t know anything about the bombings of the IRA members in London or the aftermath of the people who were falsely accused so the subject matter didn’t attract me right away. Even after I turned on the movie and committed to it, no more than a minute into it, I was going to press stop on my remote control because the worst Bono song ever, not that there is a good one, greeted me with a big Fuck You of a welcome!
My suggestion after watching…ignore the fact that its 18 years old, ignore the bad cover, and fast forward through the opening credits song and watch this movie! After all Daniel Day Lewis is in it and he pretty much only picks Academy Award Winning Roles and makes Academy Award Winning Movies! For the record, he has made 9 movies since 1990 and he has 4 total Oscar Nominations, and two wins! That’s 4 of 9, with 2 wins!
Writers: Gerry Conlon (autobiographical book “Proved Innocent”), Terry George (screenplay)
Director: Jim Sheridan
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Alison Crosbie
Runtime: 133 minutes
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn with Butter
This particular Academy Award Nominated movie is the story of the Guildford Four, led by Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day Lewis) who was all falsely accused by British Police in 1974 as IRA Terrorists who bombed a Pub in England. They were brought in, tortured, and forced to confess for a crime they didn’t commit. The movie shows in tormenting fashion what it would take for innocent people to confess to a crime they didn’t commit in some of the most powerful scenes of the film. The Police are so desperate to bring people down for the crime that they also convict Conlon’s father and family members of all the Four with assisting and sentence them to prison as well.
The Story is true and the movie is a movie, this very interesting story is told in very powerful and over dramatized fashion. It takes its liberties I’m sure, which help lead to a very good movie. I have always really enjoyed courtroom dramas and prison movies and this definitely would be classified as both. It is a courtroom drama set in England, so all the lawyers and judges wear goofy 1700’s hair pieces but that’s just something we’re all going to have to deal with together! It is however very much a prison drama. I found some of the scenes in prison with Conlon and his father (Pete Postlethwaite), who in the movie shared a cell, also very powerful.
Years and years passed and it became general public knowledge that the Guildford Four were indeed falsely convicted. A young British lawyer (Emma Thompson) takes a special interest in the case and fights for the “Four” and their families in custody. She works years and as the movies tells, perhaps would have never made any progress if it weren’t for her coming across some pieces of evidence she was never meant to see labeled “Do not show to the Defense” It was evidence specially hidden from the court, and was not seen until almost 16 years later when she used it to get everyone out of prison.
One of the most interesting storylines to follow is the growth of Gerry Conlon throughout the film. There is not much effort to show the lapse of time that the movie has but knowing that Conlon is 16-17 years older when he is released than when he went in, the character of Conlon obviously grows, going from a juvenile petty thief, to a grown up rebellious and radical leader. Daniel Day Lewis obviously plays the part to perfection.
This is an older movie but one going back and watching as it is one of the best of its time, and much of its greatness still rings true today.
Medium Popcorn with Butter.