Black Irish Republican?


Last night we watched a Jackie Chan movie. The reason for its viewing was an article by the director who said the performance he wanted from Jackie was not a funny one. This was a very serious role. Jackie would not be laughing or stumbling through situations. The movie was The Foreigner.

Here is the trailer on IMDb

There were quite a few peculiarities about the movie that caught us of guard. Firstly, there is no date or time period given. You are supposed to assume that it is modern, but then the use of the IRA as villains makes you think it is older since The Troubles are believed to be behind us.

I do not know if it was the intention of the filmmaker, the writers, or the production company to make it this way.  The director, Martin Campbell, is no stranger to this type of story though. Having directed movies like GoldenEye and The Mask of Zorro, he goes back and forth through time effortlessly, and neither of these movies establishes a timeline right away. You are left to guess and let the movie play out as it does. Although Zorro does begin in the time of the Spanish losing control of California to Mexico, it really stays around that 20 odd years. So it is a period piece, without a timeline.

I am not overly familiar with the production companies, there are 8, or their work so far as to say that according to the title sequence,  a few are Chinese based. I am unfamiliar with Chinese storytelling methodology so I cannot say whether or not it had an influence on the story. I am sure this will lead me to research that later.

Writing-wise, my guess would be ghostwritten mostly. The screenplay is by David Marconi, who while having some pretty cool credit to his name, does not have many. They are also pretty diverse in scope and texture. It is based on a book, "The Chinaman" (yes really), by Stephen Leather, a Brit who is known for this genre of stories.

Another item that stuck in my head and wandered around for a bit was a piece of casting. Casting Ray Fearon in the part of "Commander Richard Bromley", a soldier and leader of a brigade in the Northern Command. I have seen Ray before in other movies and so his face was already familiar to me, but his face was what struck us. Ray is a British actor of African descent. Bluntly, he is a black man. And I remember thinking, were there any people of African descent in the IRA? So I just had to look that up.

Now historically, there have been people of African descent in Ireland. This was not the curiosity. as this wiki article point out,

"Enslavement of blacks was rare in Ireland during the 18th century, although the legal position remained unclear until a judgment in England in 1772, the Somersett's Case. Others were tradesmen, soldiers, traveling artists or musicians. They were never very numerous, and most were assimilated into the larger population by the second third of the 19th century. They include the rebel Mulatto Jack (fl. 1736), the singer Rachael Baptist (fl. 1750-1775), who were both Irish. Other such as Osmond Tisani (fl. 1905–1914) were born abroad but settled in Ireland."

But were they in the IRA? Well yes. But only one really. Tim Brannigan, and his life was fascinating, You can read that for yourself.

Now since my curiosity had been satisfied, I still wondered why cast Ray in that role? Was this character supposed to be Tim Brannigan? Were they simply saying that color of an actors skin should not matter? (Which honestly, unless it is a period piece, a known cultural character, a parody, or a genre-bending production, the answer is no.) Or and this is what really pushes the boundaries of good humor, did the casting agent not know what "Black Irish" meant?

Anyway, That's just me...Walking My Mind...

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