Monday 20 November 2017

WATCH: 'It angers me so much' - Jamie Dornan is frustrated it took 55 years to tell the real story of The Siege of Jadotville

Jamie Dornan and director Richie Smyth discuss their Netflix movie The Siege of Jadotville
Jamie Dornan and director Richie Smyth discuss their Netflix movie The Siege of Jadotville

Sasha Brady

The heroic story of the Siege of Jadotville is finally getting the recognition it deserves... 55 years later.

The film centres on Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan, who leads a standoff with troops against French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during in the early 1960s.

Real life: Irish actors Conor MacNeill and Jamie Dornan star in 'The Siege of Jadotville' for Netflix
Real life: Irish actors Conor MacNeill and Jamie Dornan star in 'The Siege of Jadotville' for Netflix

What started off as a simple peacekeeping mission ended up in a bloody battle for life and death. Quinlan and his company defended Jadotville from sustained attack by troops and mercenaries loyal to the Katangese prime minister Moise Tshombe.

Following their eventual surrender, after their supplies were exhausted, the Irish soldiers received no formal acknowledgement for their bravery and their story was swept under the carpet. Quinlan died in 1997 without any official recongition.

"You can't believe that this happened and we don't know about it and then you start to find out why not many people know about it, it's very frustrating," Dornan, who plays Quinlan, told Independent.ie.

The County Down actor believes it will be hard for audiences to come out of the movie without angry.

"Not only did they not get the recognition they deserved, they got the opposite of that. They got put down for their efforts. There's this whole derogatory term the 'Jadotville Jacks' that was used in the army going forward if someone showed an act of cowardice. Even now it angers me so much when you know what these guys really went through."

The film was shot just outside Johannesburg and the story of the brave soldiers who fought against all odds not only inspired the Irish cast and crew but also the South African extras.

Jamie Dornan poses with fans at the premiere of ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ at the Savoy in Dublin Picture: PA
Jamie Dornan poses with fans at the premiere of ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ at the Savoy in Dublin Picture: PA

"There was no problem getting the people to commit, they were really so passionate about the story. The South African crew just took it on as their own story where they really felt so angry about what had happened," said director Smyth.

The first-time feature director wanted the extras to get a real understanding of the story they were trying to tell so schooled them in on the history before filming. The backstory moved the cast so much that they were determined to put in whatever work was required in order to get it and into popular conscience.

"They were in tears afterwards," said Smyth.

"Extras get paid such sh*t money, they get terrible food and they work all day and a lot of the time they start to just not show up but they just kept coming back."

The Siege of Jadotville, Galway Film Fleadh
The Siege of Jadotville, Galway Film Fleadh

The Irish action at Jadotville was the subject of two books by Cmdt Leo Quinlan along with author Rose Doyle, and former Army Corporal Declan Power.

The Siege of Jadotville will be released in Ireland and the UK on Monday 19th September, September 19 and will be available globally from Netflix on October 7.

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