McCann At The Movies: ‘Black 47’ — A Famine Thriller Worthy Of Attention

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John McCann says ‘Black 47’ delivers as a historical piece and on an entertainment level…

A constant presence on the film festival circuit throughout the country this year, including a gala screening at the Dingle International Film Festival last March, Black 47 finally gets its long-awaited nationwide release this week.

Incredibly, the first feature film to deal with the Irish Famine, director Lance Daly was entrusted with bringing this hugely important part of Irish history to life whilst simultaneously maintaining the very high standard set by Irish film makers in recent times.

Set in 1847, ‘Black 47’ tells the story of an Irish Ranger who on his return from war finds that his mother has died in the famine and his brother is sentenced to death by the British.

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When his plan to emigrate to America fails, he starts a vendetta against the establishment in Ireland.

Armoured with a stellar cast that includes Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Jim Broadbent and Barry Keoghan present, director Lance Daly successfully marries the themes of historical drama, depicting a snapshot of a very difficult time in Irish history with a heart-thumping revenge thriller – and does so to great effect.

Black 47.

The bleakness of the Great Famine is captured perfectly by the film-maker but in no way overwhelms the film with a central plot of revenge running throughout this epic tale and gripping its audience in the process.

James Frecheville is outstanding in the lead role, playing the brooding quiet avengeful type to perfection as he sets out on a one-man mission to seek revenge for the wrongs his family have endured.

The criminally underrated Hugo Weaving too is excellent in a strong supporting role and Stephen Rea adds the closest thing to comic relief that a film like this can provide.

The cinematography is also breathtaking as Connemara provides the perfect serene yet bleak background to this historical tale.

Credit too must be given to the sensible running time of just over 90 minutes which is plenty of time to develop both the characters and the story without giving the viewer a pain in their haunches as can be the norm these days at the cinema.

Overall, Black 47 delivers on all counts, both as an historical piece and entertaining thriller with Lance Daly and company again showcasing the talent and high quality of film that is country regularly produces. Long may it continue.


• For more of John McCann’s movie reviews, check out his Facebook page here and website here

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