Belfast is used to seeing itself on screen: the city has forged a specialty in cinema and series, films on the last civil war in Western Europe are fascinating. International directors are not the only ones to draw inspiration from these dark years, the Northern Irish rarely hesitating to tell their own stories. In the main theater of the capital, a play on the Irish border has given way to a one-man show on… the Irish border.
→ ANALYSIS. Fifty years after Bloody Sunday, Northern Ireland remains a prisoner of its past
But the name of Kenneth Branagh brings a very particular excitement. Born in Belfast in 1960, left nine years later, he is a star, ” one of us ”… For the release of his semi-autobiographical film which retraces the year 1969, that is to say the beginning of the war, the rooms are packed. Newspapers and televisions run on the subject in a loop, large posters praise the “masterpiece” on the double-decker buses. ” I think I’m going to see him again this weekend! exclaims a spectator, her first ticket still in hand. When Branagh’s face appears on screen in an introductory video addressed to “people from the North”, silence is immediate.
taste of division
The feature film unfolds his bittersweet discourse on expatriation. The violence is in the background, the tensions immediately dissipated by the black humor dear to the province. The Northern Irish laugh at their own banter and rejoice in a soundtrack that honors Van Morrison, another local pride.
→ REPORT. In Derry in Northern Ireland, the wounds still raw from Bloody Sunday
But the Belfastois are overtaken by their taste for division. The movie is a hollywood cliche without plot “for some, when he is” instructive for others, nostalgic for the 1970s. The media don’t know what to do with this ” aggressively apolitical romanticized reverie “.
“It was like that when I was little”
Kenneth Branagh dedicates his film to “ those who stayed, those who left » and to « those we lost “. ” It is perhaps these sentences at the very end of the film that touched me the most “, regrets a mother. ” When I want to see films about war, I prefer more realism », assures a young man.
Another, older, tempers: It was like that when I was little. Much worse, of course, but it’s quite close to what we experienced: people thrown out of their homes, riots… One thing is certain: It’ll show the rest of the world how people are here. »