Due to Ireland’s small size and its history of colonization, it must constantly consider its relationship with larger

outside powers. With Britain in the east and America in the west, the Irish are divided upon how to deal with these foreign forces. Presently, Ireland imports American culture and modernity while exporting a traditional, picturesque image of itself. Thus, Ireland is “torn between presenting itself as a modern, dynamic society… and an idyllic, prelapsarian culture unsullied by the twentieth century” (Linehan, 46). It vacillates between inwardness and outwardness, tradition and modernity, particularism and universalism. I argue that these binary oppositions intermix and eventually break down. Irish cinema shows how modernity interacts with a particularity to create an identity that wholly embraces neither essentialism nor modernism; instead it facilitates a dialogue between ostensibly contradictory interpretations of Ireland. Ireland’s difficult relationship with superior outside powers began with British colonization, which resulted in the loss of Ireland’s indigenous language and identity. The children of Into the West must change their names for the welfare officer, Harry of Michael Collins must assume a different identity to go west to America, and Fergus changes his name to “Jimmy” when he goes east to Britain. Like the characters in the films, the films themselves also change identities when traveling overseas. Into the West was marketed as a children’s movie in America though it was a movie for all ages in Ireland, and American critics saw The Crying Game more as a critique of sexuality than of Irish nationality. Because the domestic audience is too small to cover the costs of production, Irish filmmakers have little choice but to look east and west to market their films. The result is a constant awareness of being watched. The boys of Into the West are watched from the television news and from a helicopter, while both Michael Collins’ paramilitary and Fergus’ IRA are under meticulous surveillance by the British police. In “Reimaging the Nation,” Martin McLoone says that the reaction of some Irish nationalists to this oppressive outside pressure is “to turn away from the modern world represented by [Britain and America] and to look inward for a sense of Irishness” (28). Into the West adopts this Irish essentialist attitude by idealizing rural Ireland of the west and denigrating Dublin of the east. The film establishes

this tension in the beginning, where a loud offensive plane sweeps away the scene of the grandfather’s horse-drawn buggy by drowning it out both visually and aurally. Using the plane as a transition, the film cuts to Papa and his sons standing in a dim elevator, which introduces the family’s suffocating confinement within modern urban life. The elevator, in contrast to the rolling freedom of the western landscape, is strictly rectangular and metallic, limited to linear movement. It is from this modern existence in the eastern city of Dublin that the boys must escape. The west represents the past, a temporal space untainted by modernism. Grandpa tells an ancient Irish myth about Terminol in which a young man instantly ages when he falls off his horse. Ossie relives this old myth in the present and refuses to dismount Terminol in a neurotic fear that he will turn old. The movie associates youth with the past, with an innate and untainted Irishness. Thus, many important moments of Into the West contain low shot with an upward angle, communicating that the story is told from the children’s point of view. During their journey to the west, the boys slowly recall and reconstruct memories of the past, of their mother and their travelling days. In one scene, the boys reminisce around a campfire while an ancient Irish castle lies in the background, allowing us to imagine as if the boys are camping in the past. Like the time machine car of Back to the Future, one of the movies the boys watch, Terminol is the vehicle by which the boys travel through time. The horse also functions as the Catholic mother of Ireland. Terminol brings the boys to pray at a statue of the Virgin Mary, and a subsequent scene shows Papa desperately crying to his wife, “Mary, Mary,” hoping that she will help. Thus, though the Travelers are physically homeless and rootless, they are the spiritual roots of Ireland. The Travelers preserve Irish myths, Catholic spirituality, and a connection with the natural landscape while the eastern urban Irish have forsaken their race memory. Opposing groups of Irish people appear in Michael Collins as well. Throughout most of the movie, Irishmen kill not the British, but other Irishmen who hold competing notions of what it means to be Irish. The essentialist attitude manifests itself in this movie as Eamon de Valera, the Irish leader who historically extolled a “frugal self-sufficiency” by eschewing foreign influences. During the jailbreak

scene in Michael Collins, de Valera insists that Collins and Harry stop cursing, a humorous premonition of de Valera’s later puritanism. Collins, during the first half of the movie, is on de Valera’s side and tries to expel British influence by urging his countrymen to disregard British rules. When a British tank rolls in to the midst of a soccer game, one Irish soccer player enacts this doctrine of ignoring British rules by continuing to play the game and eventually scoring a goal. There is a moment of triumph; the spectators cheer at the soccer player’s brave assertion that Ireland will play its own game. But when the tank kills the soccer player and proceeds to massacre the crowd, we see that ignoring the British without engaging with them is absurd. The massacre scene is interspliced with an affectionate scene between Collins and his girlfriend, just as the scene of the assassinations of British police officers is also interspliced with a domestic scene between Collins and his girlfriend. This parallel editing shows that Ireland cannot enjoy a private, peaceful domesticity because violence from the east will inevitably intrude. Hence, Collins strikes a compromise and accepts British help to fight de Valera. Though Collins receives criticism for his acceptance of aid from the east, de Valera himself looked west to America for help. He escaped execution by virtue of being born in America and traveled to America to try to procure legitimacy for the nation of Ireland. Both Collins and de Valera try to shape Ireland through the mediation of external countries in the east and west. Just like these Irish revolutionaries, Irish filmmakers “often require the endorsement of the metropolitan centers (especially London and New York), before Irish talent is recognized at home” (Rockett, 23). Like Collins, Neil Jordan accepts help from the east since most of his films are co-produced with British funds, and it was Neil Jordan’s Oscar success in America that induced Ireland to reinstate the Irish Film Board. Into the West, despite its dominating Irish essentialism, also looks outside of Ireland. Through a series of shot reverse shots, we alternate between the attentive faces of the boys and the TV set they are watching, implying a dialogue between the two. In one scene, the boys watch TV through a hole in the wall, showing us that they are looking into an entirely different geographical space, the space of the American western. These western images, transmitted through a modern medium, parallel the indigenous Irish myth, which is conversely transmitted through a traditional oral medium. Both discourses inspire

the boys to escape. When Ossie prays for Terminol, his prayer is answered by the television, which is neither Catholic nor indigenously Irish. In the scene when the father dances and sings in the slums, we move briefly to a close-up shot of a TV lying in the midst of this celebration of the Irish spirit. Thus, Into the West does not outright reject modern global influences, but endorses an Irish essentialism that interacts with its antithesis, modernism. Irish filmmakers synthesize these oppositions by reappropriating foreign discourses. Hollywood is so powerful that images from the west “are now a part of common currency” (McLoone, 151), but Irish filmmakers spend this cultural currency on Irish themes and problems. Historically, Ireland copes with colonization by external powers through reappropriation. “Blarney” is a reappropriation of the English language, which came from the east. Now Irish filmmakers must similarly reappropriate cinematic language, which comes mostly from Hollywood in the west. Into the West reappropriates American cinema to invoke a particularly Irish spirit within the boys. The boys identify with the cowboys, heroes with indomitable wild spirits riding west. Like one of the movies they watch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the boys run away from the ever-watching and pursuing state. The boys also identify with the Native Americans, though they do so unconsciously since Tato insists that they are the cowboys and not the Indians. The cultural oppression of Native Americans within the American Western is a metaphor for the Travelers’ oppression within Ireland, which in turn is a metaphor for Irelands’ history of oppression within Western Europe. The oppressors always represent their victims as the antagonists, which is why Tato rejects his identification with Indians, the antagonists of Westerns. Near the end, when Papa says that they have a bit of both cowboy and Indian in them, he grasps the impossibility of demarcating an unambiguous definition of Irish identity. While Newell put clips of an American film genre into Into the West, Jordan incorporates American film genres into Michael Collins. He “appropriates the epic bio-pic, film noir and the gangster movie… for the present-day concerns of Irish audiences saturated in US cinema” (Pettitt, 258). Like Into the West, Michael Collins involves a conflict between different groups of Irish people, each with “different interpretations of what it means to be Irish” (McSwiney, 20). Each faction within Michael

Collins tries to expel competing notions of Ireland. What Collins realizes towards the latter half of the movie, when he strikes a compromise with the British, is that Irish identity cannot be purified or distilled into a uniform, isolated nationalism. Attempts to distinguish Irishness from unIrishness break down completely in The Crying Game. Political, sexual, and geographical ambiguity defies all our attempts to align nationality, race, gender, and sexuality. The difficulty of locating a spatial origin is especially difficult with the character, Jody. He comes from the east as a British soldier, but the fact that he is black suggests that he may be from the same political space as the Irish as a victim of British subjugation. This point becomes especially clear when Jody is killed not by Fergus, but by a British armored car, which runs him over and comes to rest on top of him. In the cut to the next scene, again an impersonal piece of British technology attacks its victim, the IRA members, from above. Through a shot originating from the ground and directed up at the hovering helicopter, the viewer shares Fergus and Jody’s sense of being crushed by an untouchable outside power. The film further aligns Fergus’ identity with that of Jody’s during Fergus’ first visit to Dil’s room. As Fergus walks around the room, a tracking shot follows him until he stops behind a wall. We see Fergus’ face framed through the opening in this wall, while a framed photograph of Jody rests in the foreground, facing the viewer. This tableau foreshadows Fergus’ efforts throughout the rest of the film of filling in Jody’s former role. Later in this scene, while Fergus is experiencing his orgasm, the film dissolves from a shot of Fergus’ face into a shot of Jody’s photograph, which then dissolves into dream images of Jody. This sequence exhibits Fergus’ desire for and identification with Jody. Thus, The Crying Game discards the strict geographical categories of Fergus the Irishman versus Jody the Englishman and breaks down the conceptual boundary between east and west. When Fergus goes to Britain, we see a ship move across the screen horizontally from left to right, indicating Fergus’ journey from west to east. This scene then cuts into a shot of a brick wall, which is being chipped away to gradually reveal a blurry cricket game. In a reverse shot, we see that it is Fergus as a construction worker, drilling through a wall. The bricks having been cleared out, the shot returns its sight to the

cricket game, unobstructed and in focus. Here, the film visually represents its effort to break down spatial boundaries to show us the cricket game, a symbol of the humanity and vitality that is embodied in Jody. Fergus’ journey from west to east requires him to demolish preconceived demarcations of political and sexual identity to find that he is more like the British Jody than the radically-Irish IRA. Ireland’s identity is shaped by its encounters with the east and the west, and the way it chooses to ideologically situate itself between the east and the west. Reactionaries to political and cultural colonization by Britain and America try distill an essential Irishness by expelling instances of the oppressor, just as de Valera of Michael Collins and the IRA of The Crying Game try to do. However, the boundary set up between Irish and non-Irish influences proves to be too permeable. The east and west constantly intrude and embed themselves in Irish existence, and the east and west often mediate Ireland’s internal conflicts of identity. Instead of rejecting these influences, Irish filmmakers subvert unilateral cultural domination by reappropriating eastern and western images to rediscover local particulars, and to question and destabilize static interpretations of Irish identity.

Ruddy Wang Due to Ireland’s small size and its history of colonization, it must constantly consider its relationship with larger outside powers. Presently, Ireland imports American global culture and urban modernity while exporting a traditional, rural, and picturesque image of itself to the rest of the world. Thus, Ireland is “torn between presenting itself as a modern, dynamic society… and an idyllic, prelapsarian culture unsullied by the twentieth century” (Linehan, 46). With Britain in the east and America in the west, the Irish are divided upon how to deal with these outside forces: inwardness versus outwardness, tradition versus modernity, particularism versus universalism. I argue that these binary oppositions interlink and interact with each other, and eventually, they break down. Irish cinema shows how modernity interacts with a particularity to create an identity that wholly embraces neither essentialism or modernism. Cinema facilitates a dialogue between ostensibly contradictory interpretations of Ireland. Ireland’s difficult relationship with superior outside powers begins with British colonization, which resulted in the loss of Ireland’s indigenous language and identity. The children of Into the West must change their names for the welfare officer, Harry of Michael Collins must assume a different name to go west to America, and Fergus changes his name to “Jimmy” when he goes east to Britain. Like the characters in the films, the films themselves also change identities when traveling overseas. Into the West was marketed as a children’s movie in America though it was a movie for all ages in Ireland, and American critics saw The Crying Game more as a critique of sexuality than of Irish nationality. Because the domestic audience is too small to cover the costs of production, Irish filmakers have little choice but to look east and west to market their films. The result is a constant awareness of being watched. The boys of Into the West are watched from the television news and from a helicopter, while both Michael Collins’ paramilitary and Fergus’ IRA are under meticulous surveillance by the British police. In “Reimaging the Nation,” Martin McLoone says that the reaction of some Irish nationalists to this oppressive outside pressure, to “the dominance of first British and then American culture[,] was to turn away from the modern world represented by these countries and to look inward for a sense of Irishness” (28). This attitude yields films of the landscape type, presenting a rural Ireland rooted in Catholic spirituality and pastoral innocence. However, the essentialism of these films is complicated by an outwardness, by the fact that landscape films keep a

keen eye on the west. In America, such a “romantic view of Ireland” would appeal to “the nostalgic imaginings and nationalist inclinations of the Irish-Americans” (McLoone, 28). Into the West displays the attitude of Irish essentialism by idealizing rural Ireland of the west and denigrating Dublin of the east. The film establishes this tension in the beginning, where a loud offensive plane sweeps away the scene of the grandfather’s horse-drawn buggy by drowning it out both visually and aurally. Using the plane as a transition, the film cuts to Papa and his sons standing in a dim elevator, which introduces the family’s suffocating confinement within modern urban life. The elevator, in contrast to the rolling freedom of the western landscape, is strictly rectangular and metallic, limited to linear movement. It is from this modern existence in the eastern city of Dublin that the boys must escape. The west represents the past, a temporal space untainted by modernism. The boys camp while the ruins of an old Irish castle lay in the background, and they nostagically recall the past and lament the loss of their mother and of their travelling days. The vehicle by which the boys make their journey to the past is Terminal, which functions like the time machine car of Back to the Future, one of the movies that they watch. The horse also functions as the mother and the Catholic roots of Ireland. It brings the boys to pray at a statue of the Virgin Mary, and a subsequent scene shows Papa desperately crying to his wife, “Mary, Mary,” hoping that she will help. Earlier in the film, Grandpa tells a traditional Irish myth about Terminol(sp?) about a young man who instantly becomes old when he gets off his horse. Ossie relives this old myth in the present and refuses to dismount Terminol(sp?) in a neurotic fear that he will turn old. The movie associates youth with the past, with an innate and untainted Irishness. Falling off the horse will result in the destruction of that Irish innocence- age and modernity will immediately catch up. The race memory revealed by Grandpa’s myth encourages the boys to cling on to their essential Irishness, while it also reverberates with a fear that the essential Ireland will disappear if the Irish fail to preserve the traditions embodied in Terminal(sp?) and the Travellers. The Travellers, though they are physically homeless and rootless, are the spiritual roots of Ireland. Even though the antagonists of the movie are also Irish, the Travellers come across as the more authentically Irish. Michael Collins also portrays opposing factions of Irish people. Throughout most of the movie, Irishmen kill not the British, but other Irishmen that hold competing notions of what it means to be Irish. The essentialist attitude manisfests itself in this movie as Eamon de Valera, the leader of the Irish revolution. Historically, de Valera

extolled a “frugal self-sufficiency” that encouraged Ireland to eschew foreign influences. During the jailbreak scene in Michael Collins, de Valera insists that Collins and Harry stop cursing, a humorous premonition of de Valera’s later puritanism. Michael Collins, during the first half of the movie, is on de Valera’s side and tries to expel British influence by urging his countrymen to disregard British rules. When a British tank rolls in to the midst of a soccer game, one Irish soccer player enacts this doctrine of ignoring British rules by continuing to play the game and eventually scoring a goal. There is a moment of triumph; the spectators cheer at the soccer player’s brave assertion that Ireland will only play by Irish rules. But when the tank kills him and proceeds to massacre the crowd, we see that ignoring the British without engaging with them is absurd. Hence, by the end of the movie, Collins strikes a compromise and accepts British help to fight de Valera. Even before that, de Valera himself looks west to America for help. He escapes execution by virtue of being born in America and later travels to America where he tries to procure legitimacy for the nation of Ireland. Thus, both Collins and de Valera must shape Ireland’s conception through the mediation of external places in the east and west. Just like these Irish revolutionaries, Irish filmakers “often require the endorsement of the metropolitan centers (especially London and New York), before Irish talent is recognized at home” (Rockett, 23). Like Collins, Niel Jordan also accepts help from the east since most of his films are co-produced with funds from Britain. Into the West, despite its dominating Irish essentialism, also looks outside of Ireland. Through a series of shot reverse shots, we alternate between the attentive faces of the boys and the TV set they are watching, implying a dialogue between the two. In one scene, the boys watch TV through a hole in the wall, implying that they are looking into an entirely different geographical space, the space of the American western. These western images, which are transmitted through a modern medium, parallel the indigenous Irish myth, which is transmitted through a traditional oral medium. Both the Westerns and the myth inspire the boys to escape. When Ossie prays for Terminol(sp?), his prayer is answered by the television, which is neither Catholic nor indigenously Irish. In the scene when the father dances and sings in the slums, we see a close-up shot of a TV lying in the midst of this celebration of the Irish spirit. Thus Into the West does not simply extol Ireland and reject modern global influences, but presents an Irish essentialism that interacts with its antithesis, modernism. Irish filmakers synthesize these oppositions by reappropriating foreign discourses. Hollywood is so powerful that images from the west “are now a part of common currency” (McLoone, 151), but Irish filmakers

spend this cultural currency on Irish themes and problems. Historically, Ireland copes with colonization by external powers through reappropriation. “Blarney” is a reappropriation of the English language, which came from the east. Now Irish filmakers must similarly reappropriate cinematic language, which comes mostly from Hollywood in the west. Into the West reappropriates American cinema to invoke a particularly Irish spirit within the boys. The boys identify with the cowboys, heroes with indominatable wild spirits riding west. Like one of the movies they watch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the boys run away from the ever-watching and pursuing state. The boys also identify with the Native Americans, though they do so unconciously since Tato insists that they are the cowboys and not the Indians. The cultural oppression of Native Americans within the American Western is a metaphor for the Travellers’ oppression within Ireland, which in turn is a metaphor for Irelands’ history of oppression within Western Europe. The oppressors always represent their victims as the antagonists, which is why Tato rejects his identification with Indians, the antagonists of Westerns. At the end, when Papa says that everyone has a little bit of cowboy and Indian in them, he grasps the impossibility of clearly demarcating a definition of Irish identity. While Newell put clips of an American film genre into Into the West, Jordan incorporates American film genres into Michael Collins. He “appropriates the epic bio-pic, film noir and the gangster movie… for the presentday concerns of Irish audiences saturated in US cinema” (Pettitt, 258). Both Into the West and Michael Collins involve conflicts between different Irishmen: the Travellers versus the Dubliners, the IRA versus the Irish working for the crown, and de Valera versus Collins. Neil Jordan says that “the War of Independence was a war amongst different interpretations of what it means to be Irish” (McSwiney, 20). The factions within these films champion their idea of Ireland by expelling competing notions of Ireland. What Collins realizes towards the latter half of the movie, when he strikes a compromise with the British, is that Irish identity cannot be purified or distilled into a uniform and isolated nationalism. Attempts to distinguish Irish from non-Irish or natural from unnatural break down completely in The Crying Game. Political, sexual, and geographical ambiguity defies all our attempts to aline nationality, race, gender, and sexuality. Initially, viewers believe that Fergus has a “natural” sexual desire for Dil, only to realize that this desire has lead him into an “unnatural” homosexual relationship, thus betraying his masculinity. Fergus is passive and feminine whereas Jude, the female IRA terrorist, is violent and aggressive. Though Jude is ostensibly the most purely Irish since she is steadfastly devoted to the Irish cause, when she goes east to London, she adopts a

new look, a high-tech urban sheen. With this cosmopolitan Jude, it becomes impossible to discern her provincial Irishness. The difficulty of locating a geographical origin is especially difficult with the charater, Jody. He is a black British soldier, which means that he, like the Irish, was once subjugated by the British. Fergus, as a member of the IRA, can perceive him both as a British oppressor and a British victim. Fergus goes through a crisis of identity as he considers that perhaps, though he and Jody are from different geographical places, they may be from the same political place, just as the Travellers of Into the West are from the same political place as the Native Americans. Neither Fergus nor Jody seem personally devoted towards the cause which they are supposed to be fighting for, and by the time Fergus leaves Ireland, we must discard strict categories of geographical origin and cease to see Fergus the Irishman fighting Jody the Englishman. Ireland must define its position in consideration of powerful eastern and western influences. One reaction involves expelling instances of the oppressor to distill an essential Irishness, as de Valera of Michael Collins and the IRA of The Crying Game seek to do. However, the boundary set up between Irish and non-Irish proves to be too permeable and easily complicated, since British and American cultural influences have already embedded themselves deeply within Ireland. However, each film’s heroes show that part of being Irish is being subversive, and the films subvert unilateral cultural domination by reappropriating images from the east and the west to compose a distinctly Irish picture. Irish filmakers lean upon foreign or universal cultural images to rediscover a local particular and to articulate Irish identity by examining its response to discourses from the east and west.

Also, the primordial representation of Jody’s nature and virility is the image of Jody playing cricket, a British game. However, Jody says the black man’s version of the game is better. He reappropriates a British game to reflect his own nature.

Both Fergus and Jody, at the beginning of the film, feel like “disposable pawns in someone else’s game.” By the end of the movie, Fergus has asserted that he will not play by anyone else’s In Brtain, Fergus replaces Jody in relationship with Dil, again suggesting that they are interchangable, from the same place. dreams of Jody playing cricket, looks at pic of Jody while having sex w/Dil, dresses Dil in Jody’s cricket clothes. desire and identification w/Jody. ultimate primordial representation of Jody and Jody’s virility is him playing cricketcricket is a British game. but Jody says the black man’s version of the game is better- reappropriation. idea of the game and playing it differently, just like in Mike Collins. essentialism: frog gives scorpion lift, scorpion stings, “It’s in my nature.” it’s not in Fergus’ nature to kill Jody. he is essentially human and compassionate, rather than essentially Irish: an appeal to universal human nature rather than nationalism or factionalism.

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