From the Video Shop: The Hanging Gale

Neil Turner

1995 - Ireland - 205 minutes

Writer - Allan Cubitt

Director - Diarmuid Lawrence

Internet Movie Database User Rating - 9/10 - Link to IMDB

My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

The Hanging Gale is another excellent example of a made for television mini-series. Its subject is the devastation to one family resulting from the Irish potato famine of the mid 1800's in which half of the population of Ireland was depleted either by death or emigration.

The cast is headed by four acting brothers - Joe, Mark, Paul, and Stephen McGann - who give powerful performances as brothers in Ireland fighting - politically and physically - to save their land from the British landlord. The most intriguing performance in the film is given by Michael Kitchen as the landlord's agent.

Townsend, the agent, is certainly not a Simon Legree, but he is a complex man who seems to make many wrong decisions despite himself. Even though he is educated and obviously has the means and moral sense to overcome the landlord, it seems that he becomes as much a victim as the starving tenant farmers.

The superior acting all 'round and the excellent production values of the film enable the viewer to vicariously experience what it must have been like for these extraordinarily poor people as their very ability to exist withered away. This is a powerful film that gives you a glimpse into a dark period of history.

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