The Journey is a very hopeful film based on events that took place in Scotland 2006 concerning the peace talks surrounding the end of ‘The Troubles’ in Ireland. Directed by Nick Hamm (Full Circle) and starring Timothy Spall (Harry Potter franchise (he was Peter Pettigrew)) and Colm Meaney (The one Irish guy in Star Trek).
First a little background from your local resident history nerd (F**k Ross the other history nerd in the team). The events in this film surround something called ‘The Troubles’ which took place in Northern Ireland for around 40 years. It was an ethno-nationalist conflict with the main trouble regarding the constitutional statue of Northern Ireland. The Unionists who were mostly Protestants wanted Ireland to remain a part of the UK, but the Irish nationalists/republicans who were mostly Catholics wanted to leave the UK and join a united Ireland. This was a very bloody moment in the history of Ireland, commonly called a ‘low level war’, with around 50,000 casualties, and nearly 3,500 dead.
This film is very much an imaginative take on the events surrounding the St Andrews agreement where peace was finally made. In 2006, Ian Paisley the Democratic Unionist Party Leader and Martin McGuiness a SinnFein politician with ties to the IRA, met to end ‘The Troubles’. However, Paisley had his 50th wedding anniversary and due to customs in Ireland at the time, McGuiness had to travel with him back to Belfast. The movie follows the journey that these men take from St. Andrews to Edinburgh and how they bridge the gap and somehow find common ground to end the civil war in Ireland. The crux is, both these men HATE each other, each calling the other a terrorist several times throughout the film, but SOMEHOW after the events of the movie they become such good friends they are dubbed ‘The Chuckle Brothers’.
The thing is, no one knows what these men said to each other in the process of the car ride to the airport. Both of them are dead now so we’ll never know. The movie is an interpretation of what might have been said. It’s got themes of hope and bridging gaps despite deep hatred, rousing speeches, a convenient flat tire, an abandoned church and no gas to make them talk it out despite Paisley’s efforts to have a fucking nap, which I very much relate to.
This is my main problem with the film. I think that conversations as serious as ending a civil war which has killed thousands of people aren’t as well thought out and systematic in their themes. The film is aiming for the audience who grew up in this period and portray a real moment of shining glory and a true turning point in Irish history. I find it a little unbelievable, in real life conversations don’t go the way they go in this movie. Especially if someone wants to take a nap and the other has no phone reception. It’s just a bit far-fetched.
I still really enjoyed this film. I really liked how they gave information at the beginning outlying the events that preceded the St Andrews agreement and used voices of the other politicians and MI5 team throughout the film to keep you on top of things and to really show how vital this peace agreement was to Ireland. The cinematography was really great as well. A lot of the film takes place in a car, but the edits and the use of the cinematography when they get out of the car on occasion is very good.
The BEST thing about this movie was the performances. Spall and Meany knock it out of the park in their portrayals. You see images and even clips of the real men and boy did they get it right. The acting is powerful and moving, at parts they make you laugh, feel sympathy and anger and it’s all so good. The men carry this film as the real men carried the peace for Ireland and they themselves make this film worth the time it takes to watch it.
This film is designed for an audience which knows about the Irish struggle, and the far-fetched idealism of the conversations between Paisley and McGuiness makes it a little unrealistic. With incredible acting and sweet cinematography, The Journey is a film to hit up if you like politics and history.