Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dreaming of home

Paul Whitington

john ford: dreaming the quiet man

(PG, limited release, 95 minutes)

Director: Se Merry Doyle Stars: Maureen O'Hara, Martin Scorsese, William Dowling


It has occurred to me in recent times that I've managed to completely miss the point of John Ford's The Quiet Man. In giving out about its stage-Irishness, I failed to realise that it was never intended as a realistic vision of rural Ireland, but was instead a fantasy inspired by childhood stories from Ford's Galway parents.

That pure vision is explored by Se Merry Doyle in this documentary released to mark the film's 60th anniversary.

While we native Irish have tended to sneer at The Quiet Man, the film has become hugely significant for generations of Irish-Americans desperate for an idea of the old country to hold on to.

Doyle's film shows busloads of them being ferried to Cong, Co Mayo, where The Quiet Man was shot, where they're politely milked by canny locals.

Maureen O'Hara provides wonderfully salty anecdotes about the making of the movie back in 1951, and describes Ford as both a genius and an "old bastard".

But Dreaming the Quiet Man also shows how important and personal a movie this was for Ford.

Doyle's film loses the threads of its narrative at times and looks a bit muddy, but provides an interesting insight into the making of an iconic movie.

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