Friday 28 April 2017

If you want the truth, forget the film and read Conor's great book

The Siege of Jadotville is well worth seeing, but the depiction of Conor Cruise O'Brien is a travesty, says his grandson, Alexander Kearney

Questionable: Mark Strong stars as Conor Cruise O'Brien in 'The Siege of Jadotville'
Questionable: Mark Strong stars as Conor Cruise O'Brien in 'The Siege of Jadotville'

It's an odd sensation to walk into a cinema and watch Mark Strong play your grandfather. The improbability of that match has been stressed by several critics (somewhat unfairly, I should add), but those same critics have passed over far greater liberties in silence.

I have never before been moved to speak up for Conor because, as readers of this paper will recall, he was never shy about doing that himself. Yet the accuracy of this film has been raised, and by extension Conor's portrayal in it, and that simply won't do. Since he's no longer about to point out the obvious, I will: The Siege of Jadotville is a stirring account of outstanding heroism by Irish UN troops in Katanga; but, as far as Conor goes, it's a travesty.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the film; I've seen it twice. The action scenes are thrilling. Bullets and mortars really do seem to bang and whirr about your head.

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