(The Angels) Belfast, favorite of the next Oscars shot in the midst of a pandemic, was inspired by another kind of “confinement”, that experienced as a child by Kenneth Branagh during the conflict in Northern Ireland, the director explained on Tuesday.
“I wanted to shake hands with this nine-year-old child and also try to understand what my parents had gone through”, explained Kenneth Branagh while presenting in Los Angeles this feature film all in black and white, which leaves Friday in the States -United.
The filming of Belfast began in August 2020, with daily COVID-19 tests and a quasi-military organization to allow the various technicians to prepare the set away from the rest of the team.
“During this pandemic, many people have made enormous sacrifices. And I think that was also the case with these people at that time of the Northern Irish “Troubles”, he continues.
The film “comes from this silence that many of us were confronted with at the start of the confinement, and which certainly referred me to this other confinement that we suffered when the two ends of our street were blocked” by barricades, underlines the British director.
The star actor behind the camera had moved to England with his family in the late 1960s to escape the conflict between Protestants and Catholics that engulfed Northern Ireland.
Belfast opens with a scene of street violence in the summer of 1969, when Protestant activists attack Catholic families to drive them out of these streets where the two communities had lived together for so long.
“I was 16 in 1969 and I remember the excitement of that explosion. It wasn’t until the next day that I started to see the threat it posed, ”says Ciaran Hinds, who grew up in Belfast like many of the other actors in the film.
“My childhood back then was the noise of this city at night, and the explosions in the distance reverberating off the hills of Belfast, or the gunshots at night,” he says.
These “troubles” would plague this British province for the next thirty years, pitting one community against another along religious and nationalist lines of fault.
The film is set against the backdrop of this violence and follows a young father (Jamie Dornan) who leaves his body defending Belfast to give his family a brighter future.
But his wife (Caitriona Balfe) and young boy Buddy (Jude Hill) want to stay in the neighborhood where they have their roots and their friends.
The film mixes humor and emotions, for example in family scenes featuring Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench, who play Buddy’s grandparents and have been praised by critics.
“I think it is linked to the fact that we may not be completely back on our feet after what we went through” during the pandemic, says Kenneth Branagh to explain this enthusiasm of the first spectators. “Maybe we need some kind of emotional release, and stories always help with that,” he says.
Belfast is a chance for the actor-director, 60 years old, to win the first Oscar of his multiple careers, after already five nominations.
He was first selected in 1990 as an actor and director for Henry V. A few years later he was in contention again for the short film Swan Song then again for its adaptation ofHamlet.
Branagh had lost his Irish accent as a child because he “didn’t want to be noticed” in England and he now realizes that theater and film are a way for him to reconnect with his roots.
“I certainly got lost for quite a while, I think. It took me a while to find my way home, and with this movie I got there, ”says Branagh.
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Belfast | Kenneth Branagh drew on his “confinement” experience