Ireland from an Irish Eye Robert Quinn Set about Making Irish Films That Depicted a Far Different Ireland in 1973 and Has Been Making Them Ever Since

By Peterson, Deborah | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 16, 1996 | Go to article overview

Ireland from an Irish Eye Robert Quinn Set about Making Irish Films That Depicted a Far Different Ireland in 1973 and Has Been Making Them Ever Since


Peterson, Deborah, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


American filmmakers have long plundered Ireland as a theme and locale for such successful films as "The Quiet Man," which got John Ford a 1952 best director Academy Award, "Ryan's Daughter" in 1970 and the 1989 Oscar-winning "My Left Foot."

But to the Irish themselves, many of these films are a lot of blarney.

Robert Quinn is one such Irishman. He is also a filmmaker who thought the romanticized image of Ireland presented by most American directors could have been dreamed up by leprechauns.

He set about making Irish films that depicted a far different Ireland in 1973 and has been making them ever since. Five of Quinn's films will be shown Friday-Sunday at Webster University. Quinn, who lives in St. Louis' sister city of Galway, Ireland, will be on hand to talk about his films Friday and Saturday evenings. He will also hold a workshop, "International Filmmaking: Ireland," Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Webster.

All five of Quinn's films are in Gaelic with English subtitles. In chronological order, they start with "Lament for Arthur Leary," an hour-long story of an 18th-century war hero who returns to Ireland to find it riddled with anti-Catholic penal laws. Next comes "Cloch," a 25-minute film made in 1975. It is the story of an Irish stone carver and sculptor.

"Self Portrait with Red Car," made in 1976, is also a short film (17 minutes). It tells the story of an artist who leaves the city for a rural area but can't get the urban sounds and images out of his mind. "Poitin," pronounced Poteen, made in 1978, is an hour-long film that offers a harsh view of Western Ireland, in which the characters live an economically marginal and frustrating existence. …

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