How Belfast Editors on Raising Irish Helped Kenneth Branagh Film – The Hollywood Reporter
Focus feature’ Belfast, the story of a Protestant family fighting troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969, is a personal story for director Kenneth Branagh as well as Irish film editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, who co-wrote and co-directed 2014 Ivisible man about her own father’s experience during that time. She said: “Ken recalls the footsteps of his past 50 years later, because I did a documentary with my father, who also recounted his past footsteps. [as] a Catholic working-class boy. Because of the great civil injustices, thousands of Catholics have been imprisoned.”
BelfastThe film’s subjective perspective allows the audience to connect with the film’s young protagonist, Buddy (Jude Hill), who at the beginning of the film is unwittingly caught up in a street riot when Protestants attack him. public a predominantly Catholic community. One notable scene from that sequence was shot “so beautifully on this circle around the child at 60 fps,” says Ní Dhonghaíle, noting that she alternated the frame rates in the piece. Edited to adjust the timing with that image and sound was used to “build confusion – first silence, then confusion.” She added, “We had this loud song for the approaching crowd, which was distracting. [so] that you cannot see. It’s a pretty obvious organ reduction, but also trying to be lyrical because we want to feel like the boy feels. And of course, the explosion brought him out of the trance he was in in the moment.”
From there, Ní Dhonghaíle recalls poaching mob images from dailies, “like the memories that would happen to you or me if we were caught in a riot.” She also focuses on the boy’s mother (Caitriona Balfe) as she retrieves a trash can and uses it as a shield to protect herself and her son. “We went into slow motion a little bit there, so the perspective could go from Buddy to Ma and then back to Buddy again.” She added that it was about keeping the cut “strong and lyrical” and conveying its “violence or shock”.
The editor also highlights the point when Buddy and his brother, Will (Lewis McAskie), return to their home, hiding under the table. “Their performance under the table was amazing [at conveying how] the kids will feel the same way so the audience can understand why this family ended up having to leave Belfast. “
This scene, as well as a riot at the end of the film, is considered the “pillar” of the story, she explained, noting that there is a lot of experimentation in between. “We know that the riot at the end will be the ultimate driving force [for the family] leave Belfast. But the scenes in the movie, they can move. We have been continuously mining [dailies] to see what else we can do. “
A scene with Will and Buddy in their garden is one that was dropped and brought back – although like the original shot, it was meant to appear earlier in the movie. Ní Dhonghaíle said: “We just felt that we needed to watch out for the danger to Will. “In the 60s and 70s, [both sides of the conflict] was trying to recruit teenagers, and that’s really a big problem that we wanted to solve. So we managed to get the footage back. “
She explained, “Ken and I are really just interested in constantly looking at options or how to move the story forward, and Ken, although he wrote the best script, was really open to ‘trials’ – refactoring and finding ways we can improve the story. ”
Ní Dhonghaíle cites a scene in which Pa (Jamie Dornan) will leave to return to work in London. “Buddy cried and said, ‘I don’t want to leave Belfast.’ And then we put the father leaving them and Buddy seeing him from the window,” she said. “Speak like someone with two young children coming to London to work – the painful part is when you leave early in the morning when they [still] sleep [from] the night before, and you haven’t had a chance to say goodbye to them.
“Moving that around later in the movie reduces the sense of exposure about it and actually makes it much more emotional,” she added. Meanwhile, Pa learns that the family should leave the city for a new life in London. “He kept looking back, [understanding] they had to leave Belfast, but the family was not ready to leave yet. After the movie, that’s even more poignant.”
Another key scene is the parent’s dance during an Irish wake, at the end of the film. She explained, “Ma and Pa got back together after many arguments. “The dance is an important element to keep… that balance of the film is mostly seen through the child’s point of view. But it’s also important to blend in with the adults so that you understand the danger lurking outside the door. ”
She said they cut some of the extra music that had been scripted to appear earlier in the film, but the dance scene they kept felt accurate.
“One of the things that I think we share, Ken and I, is celebrating how you can tell a story with a little movement,” says Ní Dhonghaíle. “You can make people laugh and then you can make them cry. We tried to do that in our film image to capture the cultural heritage we both share – poetry and laughter go hand in hand. ” They agreed that the dance belonged to that moment in the story, “although we had to plant Granny (Judi Dench) in it which looked a bit sad because we didn’t want people to think we were frivolous or cavalier. ” Rather, the combination of sweet and sad is an opportunity to portray a specific cultural moment. “That’s what happens when the Irish wake up: You bury the person three days after they’ve passed away, and it’s a celebration of life.”
Reflecting on the story, Ní Dhonghaíle concluded: “I think after the pandemic, that’s really important to me, the message of the film and its subtext, about community and family, for be kind to others and the love we should protect any of our family, friends or neighbors of all diversity, nationalities and creeds. … This story can resonate with any family, from any country, who must escape the violence or intolerance of time. ”
This story first appeared in the November 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.