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Director Jim Sheridan. Starring Daniel Day Lewis, Emma Thompson.
This is a powerful film with a powerful message. It is based on the unsafe convictions of the Guildford Four. It professes to be the story of "one of the most significant miscarriages of justice in the Western world this century".
The Director, Jim Sheridan, has said "We're absolutely unequivocally trying to influence the public... I can only put the facts as I know them".
Much of the film, however, is fiction. To give an example, the defence solicitor, played by Emma Thompson, at one point screams at an Old Bailey judge - an event that never happened. (Solicitors are in any case forbidden to address such a court directly). It is interesting to speculate how far this indicates that the film was aimed at an American audience who would have been unaware of our conventions. Patrick Maguire, who also spent fifteen years in an English gaol through a related case, has also contested some aspects of the narrative.
The most serious misrepresentation regards the discovery of evidence supporting Gerard Conlon's alibi for the night of the Guildford bombing. In the film this is discovered by the defence solicitor. In reality is was actually supplied to the defence during the the appeal by police investigators.
Gerard Conlon himself was never looked upon too favourably by the Maguire Seven who were convicted in part because he implicated them out of spite in his false confessions. One of the Seven, Annie Maguire's brother Sean Smyth, told the Irish News in July 1991 that he was very bitter about Conlon. "It sickens me every time I see him on television. All our lives were ruined". We can only imagine Mr Smyth's pain and anguish as this perverse and fanciful version of his nephew's life circulates on video and is taken for gospel truth. It seems to me that the only reason that Conlon, a petty criminal, was not shot as a tout by the IRA was that the people he implicated were wholly innocent and not part of the IRA team who planted the Guildford bombs. This film is a powerful piece of political propaganda. Jim Sheridan has every right to be proud of it.Home Page
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