Selasa, 29 Maret 2011
Louis Marcus - An Tine Bheo AKA The Living Fire (1966)
Celebrates the 50 anniversary of the Easter Rising - 1966
Interview with the director:
In 1959 you described 'Mise Éire' as "truly an event of the most shattering consequence, not only for Irish cinema but in the general life of the country"
Do you still think that today?
I think it's a prediction that hasn't been fulfilled by events. I think I was young, enthusiastic and over optimistic.
Was that your first work in film?
Though I was only an assistant, it was the first professional job I had. I had made amateur films in the Cork film society where I first developed my interest and it was a miracle to get such a thing as a job in film making, there was only 4 or 5 people in the industry at that stage (laughs).
Did you go straight from that to making your own films for Gael Linn?
Well I realised that I would never be commissioned to make a film until I proved I could. So I went back to Cork and made a film about my friend Seamus Murphy, the sculptor called 'The Silent Art'. I got a few quid from my mother and everybody gave me the equipment and services free. I entered it in the 'Cork Film Festival' and I got cinema distribution all over Ireland. Well that meant that Gael Linn were prepared to commission me as a director. From the beginning of 1960 I started to make films for them. One on Gaelic football called 'Peil' and one on hurling called 'Christy Ring', and it went on from there.
Was that full-time employment?
I was technically freelance and could have been fired at the end of any production but we had continuity up to the end of the sixties, so I ended up being employed all the time. Since then it's always been sporadic, you could have a period of unemployment for up to a year at a time, but I've survived and certainly in the greatly changed climate of the last year or so, prospects are better now than they've ever been.
Is there a continuity of theme in your work through the years?
Well I'm not conscious of one. I don't have a manifesto to which I operate. I certainly have had a continuing interest in Irish traditional themes, Irish history, Fleadh ceoil, GAA, 'The Heritage of Ireland' for example. But then some of what I have done has gone all around the world and seems to be of universal interest so it's hard to know really.
How important is the language to you?
I think I would sum up my feeling about the Irish language as one of sadness and I don't mean that in a sense of lamenting the loss of a great and rich tradition which is true but for me it's not the crucial thing. I think there has been, in Irish language revival circles, far too much emphasis on the literary richness of Irish. A language in a normal society is not composed purely of literary richness, it is spoken at all levels of life and most of what is produced in it inevitably is rubbish - for me the Irish language will have been revived at a stage when you get the equivalent of the 'Sunday World' in Irish and when you'll get pornography in Irish. The ultimate proof that neither the state or the voluntary language revival is truly interested in achieving the aim lies in the fact that they have never made an attempt to systematically study how Hebrew was revived in Israel and how Afrikaans was made the dominant language in South Africa. These are examples that have happened so recently that they can be studied. I know for example that all the techniques exist for the teaching of language in a mass way. If, Ireland decided tomorrow that it genuinely wanted to speak Irish fluently as well as English, I would give it ten years and we would have a society in which almost everybody was able to conduct their affairs in Irish. At the moment the idea of the state trying to revive or even preserve the language is farcical. The whole effort of the state, for example the school curriculum,.is to make sure that the language won't be spoken. And one can understand why, because a shift of language or a strengthening of a second language represents a revolution, and no establishment in its right mind will subsidise a revolution. They won't do it, the state, the political parties, the church and the commercial establishment. No one wants Irish to become a living language in this society and from their point of view they're absolutely right.
Language is power?
Language is power, language is change, it's new insights, new aspirations, new feelings about things and no establishment would want to promote that, so the impetus has to come from somewhere else. If it ever became a bandwagon then the establishment would pragmatically face reality and leap on to it, but certainly not now.
Do you think that the loss of the language has anything to do with the reluctance of film-makers to tackle middle class contemporary Ireland?
Because of the language shift, we took on mental and social attitudes that created a problem with portraying contemporary Ireland on the screen. There would seem to be such a problem in the reluctance of writers to tackle subjects of that kind, as opposed to the nostalgia of the '50's and the growing up theme which seem to be the predominant flavours of the moment. It's a very complex question. We are so much under the influence of the Anglo-American media, which in film now means almost entirely the American industry and their emphasis is so much on the urban that I think we are inclined to assume that modern urban life is only real in the USA. What I'd like to see really is people setting films in contemporary urban Ireland not in a self conscious way but because the story happens to be a good one and the characters are interesting.
Well it was certainly unavoidable if you want to give a truthful account of what happened, not only to the language revival but to the whole idea of independence. You see independence to Pearse and Connolly and the others meant intellectual Independence from the Anglicisation which had weighed heavily on the country since the language shift, but it was not xenophobic or inward looking; it was in fact more conscious of Europe and the outer world than I think we truly are today, apart from the handouts from the EU and it wasn�t Anglo phobic except for a certain wing. The Gaelic League under Pearse's editorship of �An Claidheamh Soluis� regarded English and the culture of England as a boom that the country had received. The problem was not English culture but the slavish imitation of it in ways that were not appropriate to Irish circumstances. Looking at Independence 70 years later one wonders what happened to all of that. You don't expect it to be all achieved of course but the failure rate seemed to be rather dramatic especially in terms of 300,000 unemployed and perhaps a 1/3 of the population living in what we politely call the deprived areas.