Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jimmy's Hall (2014) :

If there is a must see Irish film for people of a Fenian and/or Lefist bent, than you should definitely not overlook "Jimmy's Hall, the amazing true story of Leitrim man and Rebel, James Gralton.

Based on the radical struggles and tribulations of former I.R.A. soldier and revolutionary socialist, Jimmy Gralton, whom actor Barry Ward (playing Jimmy), director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty bring to life in a remarkable and inspirational way that could only come from the rebellious and incendiary life of such a legendary figure as James Gralton, and the brilliant writing of Paul Laverty, whom has never failed to amaze me. From "My Name's Joe" about a working class Glaswegian caught between a rock and a hard place, "Bread and Roses", about the fight for the right to unionize amongst Latin-American janitors in Los Angeles, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" about Cork volunteers who fought in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War,  También la lluvia (Even The Rain) about the 2000 Bolivian Water Wars of Cochabamba, as well as "The Angels' Share", the story of a troubled father from Glasgow who narrowly avoids a prison sentence and is saved by the blessed spirits of Whiskey, Laverty always roots for the underdog and tells a compelling story in the process.  But I am convinced that he has written his pièce de résistance, with "Jimmy's Hall". 

 The defiant story of this champion of the working class, James Gralton, has our protagonist battling with all the forces of corruption, greed, and tyranny in the Ireland of Éamon de Valera during the 1930's and 40's as he fights with all his strength and intellect against the local Priest, carnivorous Land Lords,  the Free State Army, the Blue Shirts, and Garda Síochána, all because he dares to take an old abandoned and decrepit building (housed on the property of his own kinsfolk) and renovate it and turn it into "Pearse-Connolly Hall" a local community center for poetry readings, dance, dance lessons, political meetings and discussions on Republican Socialism. This simple act of love for his people and giving all his efforts and knowledge towards contributing to the local poverty stricken community doesn't just inflame the Peelers, The Land Lords,  the Church and the Free State bastards, but it also needles a local faction of the Leitrim I.R.A., who just had a split, that divides the local brigade between Republican Socialists and a reactionary element of Óglaigh na hÉireann that supports the Land Lords and the wealthier business interests over the landless peasants and poor tenants. 

   This film is a real treasure, and like "The Winds That Shakes The Barley" shows how the "dissidents" are always the true heroes and celebrates those who fight for the rights of the voiceless, rather than the "rights of plunder" too often given to the Robber Barons, Quislings, Tyrants, and greedy Land Lords. 

  The main opponent of Jimmy and his Pearse-Connolly Hall, the local priest, whom while being Jimmy and his comrades chief adversary, is still able to sum up the justness of Jimmy Gralton's cause and explain why Jimmy and his comrades remain such a threat to his authority:

"You can't buy him off. He's not greedy. He's not selfish. You know they remind me of the first martyrs. Did you ever read about those union organizers in the States? The Wobblies? Entering towns and then factories, thrown into prison, lynched.."

  But like Jimmy, they never, ever, stopped fighting the good fight. 

          - Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael 

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