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Check it Out: Film "Jimmy's Hall"


July 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Ken Loach, a renowned British film maker (The Wind that Shakes the Barley about the Irish struggle for independence, among others) has a new film, "Jimmy's Hall." It is also set in the years of that struggle, in the 1930s, after a "peace" deal has been struck with Britain. Its hero is an activist who was exiled because of his role in the struggle, and is returning to Ireland, to his home in a small village, after 10 years in New York. The hero, Jimmy Gralton, based on an actual person, is called a communist by others and seems to at least be pretty sympathetic to communism. After the village's youth struggle with him, he re-opens a hall that had been a political and cultural center before he left. The hall, where people hold classes, discuss politics and art, play music and dance, including to the African-American jazz Jimmy has brought back from New York, becomes a lightning rod for the ongoing struggle between the poor in Ireland against not only the British, but the landed gentry and the Catholic Church—against the “masters and the pastors” as one of the villagers puts it. In one scene the people of the Hall have to decide whether to stand with a poor family being evicted and a national movement challenging landowners, a decision with serious implications. The film certainly celebrates the resistance of the people, and there are other interesting and important themes, like the crucial role of art and the "life of the mind" to the struggle of the oppressed, the role of religion and the Church in keeping them down, and others. And the music and cinematography are impressive. Worth seeing, and thinking about.



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