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Jul 242013

In the Name of the Father

In the Name of the Father

Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis gives an impassioned performance in this riveting drama that mirrors one man’s 15-year struggle and ultimate triumph over a terrible injustice. Oscar winner Emma Thompson co-stars in this gripping film the Los Angeles Times calls, “A politically charged ‘Fugitive.’” In the Name of the Father tells the true saga of Gerry Conlon. A petty thief in strife-torn ’70s Belfast, Gerry’s main interests are getting drunk and partying, much to the dismay of his quiet,

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  3 Responses to “In the Name of the Father”

  1. 84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Justice by popular demand, May 7, 2000
    Anthony Hinde (Sydney, Australia) –

    This review is from: In the Name of the Father (DVD)

    This is not a film that I watch very often but “In the Name of the Father” is still one of my favorites. The reason I am not watching it regularly is that it is quite disturbing. It is loosely based on the true story of the Guildford four. A group of young people jailed for the bombing of the Guildford pub in London back in 1974.

    “In the Name of the Father” tells the story from the point of view of Gerry Conlon, played by Daniel Day-Lewis. Gerry starts out as a young man in Ireland. He is an unemployed lout who makes a little money on the side by stealing lead lining off neighborhood roofs. He is forced to leave Belfast due to the IRA’s disapproval of his thieving activities.

    Once in London, Gerry and his friend Paul Hill move into a squat with a group of other flower children. It is not long before Gerry and Paul have to move out of their new home due to friction over one of the young ladies’ relationship with Gerry. This leaves both Paul and Gerry in a public park on the night that the Guildford Pub is bombed.

    To make matters worse, the jilted boyfriend of the aforementioned young lady, goes to the police to finger Gerry and Paul as suspicious Irishmen. This is an opportunity too good to miss for Inspector Pavis. He is under great pressure to bring the guilty parties to justice.

    The next thing we know Gerry, three of his friends and the larger portion of his family have been arrested, tried and jailed. Only just short of being a kangaroo court, the prosecutor paints them as a vicious IRA cell. The atmosphere is such that even the flimsiest of evidence is seen as damning proof of their guilt.

    Up until this point in the film the story is told in retrospect, from many years after the event, by Gerry as he languishes in prison with his Father, Giuseppe. He is telling the story for a new barrister, Gareth Peirce, played by Emma Thompson. She is keen to have a retrial. The trouble is that Gerry is so cynical about English justice by this time, that he needs a lot of encouragement in order for him to participate.

    The rest of the film shows us, one layer at a time, all of the deceptions that led to the original convictions. False witnesses, false evidence, hidden testimonies, forced confessions and even the cover up of the confession of the real bomber. It all comes to a head in court, but not before the death of Giuseppe Conlon in prison, despite a compassionate appeal for early release. We also see Gerry’s transformation from a callow youth into a dedicated campaigner for justice.

    What makes this film so disturbing is that the same forces that contributed to this outrageous perversion of justice are alive and well today. The passion with which the public calls for the conviction of anyone that is accused of a brutal crime, is equally as vivid now as it was then. It should not matter how brutal a crime is, we should call for the truth, not just revenge. And so we are left with the knowledge that history will repeat itself and probably is doing so at this very moment.

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  2. 27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Emotionally harrowing, February 20, 2002
    kentuckyreader (Louisville, Kentucky USA) –

    This is a powerful story, and watching it absolutely wrings you out. You should see this movie, because the story is so emotional. You should also see it because of the quality of the acting. Daniel Day-Lewis’ and Pete Postlethwaite’s performances are so raw and perfectly understated that they make the film seem like the reality the story is based on.

    Readers can get the gist of the plot from other reviews here, but there are a few remarks that should be made.

    In this post-September 11 world, it should be noted that the thing that enabled these injustices was a bill that allowed British officials to hold suspected terrorists for up to 7 days without charging them. This gave these officers all the time they needed to beat and intimidate Conlon into confessing something he didn’t do. The kind of power such a bill provides requires more responsibility than this.

    While the British government does come out looking very bad in this film, it must be fairly pointed out that you can see why these officers were initially convinced of the Four’s guilt: they had been lied to by someone who disliked Gerry Conlon. Naturally, at first, the police thought the Four were just lying to evade prosecution. However, much later in the film, we see that Conlon’s innocence had been proven to at least some of the officers a month or so after his arrest. However, this was concealed from the rest of the judicial system, and the Four were still incarcerated.

    I have to mention that some of the most powerful moments in the film actually come from Pete Postlethwaite’s performance as Giuseppe Conlon. His attempts, while in the middle of these horrible circumstances, to draw closer to his son are so genuine and heartfelt that it makes you want to cry. This gentle, nice man’s life was surrendered to these injustices, and all the while he still tried to teach his son to be good, to be honest, and to have ethics – in other words, to be a man.

    There has been some commentary as to whether the Guildford Four were really innocent. It should be stated here that the judge who released them – chief justice Lord Lane – stated that he felt the police involved in the case “must have lied.” Also, aside from an official apology from Tony Blair, the British government has made financial restitution to the Four. I think that’s enough to decide that they were probably innocent.

    While occasionally seeming over-dramatized – like all films based on factual events – this movie succeeds in riveting you to the screen. This is a good rendering of events that prove how tragedies can occur when you have people with too much power and not enough conscience.

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  3. 29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Compelling, True Story, May 23, 2000
    David Montgomery “Book Critic” (davidjmontgomery.com) –

    Gerry Conlon (Danie Day Lewis) was not an upstanding youth. He was a petty thief and layabout with little future. He was innocent, however, of the bombing of a London pub which killed four people in 1974. That did not stop an English court, however, from sending him, his father, and several other innocent men to prison.

    What makes this story so compelling is that it is true. Conlon really did serve 15 years in a British prison for a crime he did not commit. His conviction was finally overturned in 1989, upon the revelation that evidence which proved his innocence was deliberately withheld by the government.

    This film shows several chilling scenes where Conlon is psychologically and physically abused until he finally breaks down and confesses to the crime. He, along with the others, is then sentenced to a long prison term. As the presiding judge tells him, “I only wish I could sentence you to death.”

    After Gonlon and his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite) enter prison in when the film’s best moments come. The way that the relationship between father and son grows and matures is a pleasure to watch. This is one of the most compelling and moving displays of father/son love that I have ever seen in a film. The acting by these two men is nothing short of brilliant.

    Emma Thompson is also quite effective as the English defense attorney who works for their release. This is just another entry in a seemingly endless string of excellent performances by this gifted actress. She is an amazing talent.

    Much was made when this film was first released of the liberties that writer-director Jim Sheridan took with the actual facts of the case. That may well be true, but for the purposes of the film it is not really relevant. This is not a documentary or journalistic report, and the facts are close enough. It is a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging film.

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