Waking Ned Devine
by John Farr
If you enjoyed Waking Ned Devine, you might also enjoy these great films:
At a military stockade for British soldiers in North Africa, five men, including outspoken prisoner Joe Roberts (Sean Connery), endure the humiliations of a hard-nosed Sergeant Major (Harry Andrews) and his henchmen, who assign their charges various torturous duties. After a fellow prisoner dies as a result, however, Roberts protests, spurring the full-hilt abuse of the warden and his staff. Will they manage to break his spirit?
WHY I LOVE IT:
Sidney Lumet’s agonizing, tightly directed prison film features a convincing and simmering turn by Connery, fresh off his flashy role as Bond in “Thunderball”, here portraying a stalwart soldier who endures brutalization at the hands of Andrews’s no-bull sergeant from hell. Ossie Davis steals at least one scene as a rebellious West Indian, but look for Michael Redgrave, too, as a brig staffer with a more humane disposition. Gritty and powerful, “The Hill” celebrates the heroism of defiance.
After their plane crashes in the Sahara desert, grizzled veteran pilot Frank Towns (Jimmy Stewart) and alcoholic navigator Lew Moran (Richard Attenborough) attempt to establish order among a volatile group of male passengers, including British officer Capt. Harris (Peter Finch) and addled mental case Trucker Cobb (Ernest Borgnine), while scrambling for a way to flag down help. All hope seems lost until arrogant German engineer Heinrich (Hardy Kruger) reveals an audacious plan for building a new aircraft from the wreckage.
WHY I LOVE IT:
A gripping survival film headed by a superlative cast, Aldrich’s gritty “Phoenix” pits Stewart’s irascible, old-school aviator against Kruger’s smug, ultra-rational scientist, a tense war of wills that anchors Lukas Heller’s intelligent storyline. Addressing issues of cowardice and bravery, as well as the antagonisms that divide civilization from the rule of anarchy, Aldrich gets a lot of mileage out of the scorching setting. Attenborough, Finch, Borgnine, and Dan Duryea add a colorful mix of madness and insight to the crew’s efforts in fine support roles. For a manly take on desperation and its discontents, “Phoenix” is one hell of a good ride.
Returning to India from South Africa in the early 20th century, British-trained attorney Mohandas K. Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) elects to forsake all worldly possessions and devote himself to the cause of Indian independence. Adopting a strategy of passive disobedience, Gandhi becomes a spiritual guru to his fellow countrymen and a formidable political foe in the eyes of the British imperial forces, as he guides Indians in their historic, nonviolent struggle for autonomy.
WHY I LOVE IT:
The multiple-Oscar-winning “Gandhi” explores the life and principles of an extraordinary man who became an enduring example of holiness, humility, and humane resistance. Ben Kingsley inhabits his role with saintly authority, brilliantly conveying Gandhi’s charisma and unwavering courage, while Candice Bergen (as photographer Margaret Bourke-White) and John Gielgud (as Lord Irwin) also shine in their respective roles. Melodramatic epic sequences – especially the Salt March and massacre scenes, which required Attenborough to direct 300,000 extras – are handled with graceful verisimilitude. A deeply moving, masterful epic.
With his father called to serve in the British armed services, 7-year-old Billy Rohan (Sebastian Rice-Edwards) is the lone boy in a house of women including his mother (Sarah Miles) and sister, Dawn (Sammi Davis), during the Blitz of London. Instead of cowering at home, Billy is exhilarated by the nightly air raids and the general upheaval unleashed by war, as it fuels his fertile imagination. The Rohan family remains steadfast through it all, persevering through many unexpected turns of events.
WHY I LOVE IT:
A child’s-eye view of war and endurance told with humor and heartache-and bathed in nostalgia-Boorman’s semi-autobiographical reminiscence of World War II is a ravishing piece of work that perfectly captures the look and feel of 1940s England. Rice-Edwards is sensational as the wide-eyed child who views the topsy-turvy world of war as only a young boy can: a thrilling adventure. Sammi Davis and Ian Bannen, as Billy’s eccentric grandfather, round out a terrific cast, but it’s Boorman’s keenly recalled boyhood vision that makes this such a winning film.