Black ’47 is a bleak, but amazing revenge film, produced and shot entirely in Ireland
In 1847, an Irish Ranger returns home from the Franco-Tahitian War, back home to Ireland, with plans to emigrate to America, only to find that his mother has died during the famine, his brother has just been executed by the British, and his brother’s wife and child have died due to exposure t the elements, after being evicted and left to fend for themselves. With his family dead, he starts a vendetta against the establishment in Ireland and anyone who played a part in their deaths. This makes him an enemy of the crown, and he becomes a hunted man.
Written by Lance Daly, P.J. Dillon, Pierce Ryan, and Lance Daly also directed it. Lance, from Ireland, has directed a handful of films, none that I liked much, save for his film Kisses, which was a powerful film about a young teen couple who runaway from home, to Dublin. Black 47 is different from anything he’s done before, and i am glad he stretched his creative talents, because, in my opinion, he delivers in spades with this film.
The cinematography was also another big part of making this film so amazing to watch. Declan Quinn served as cinematographer, and he has a long list of great films behind him; Leaving Las Vegas, In America, Vanity Fair. He’s got over 35 years working in film behind the camera, and it shows.
The film’s main protagonist isn’t Feeney, the Irish Ranger, that is played with a cold precision by James Frecheville, but is in fact the character of Hannah, played with seething intensity by Hugo Weaving. Hannah is set to be executed for murder himself, and he was Feeney’s commanding officer in the war. Yes, it sounds and feels a bit like Colonel Troutman and John Rambo. A young British officer, played coolly by Freddie Fox, takes charge of Hannah, and uses him to hunt the vigilante across the Irish countryside. We meet a wide variety of characters who are on Feeney’s list, who either get dispatched early in the film, or are forced to fight for their lives against this dangerous warrior with the help of Hannah and the British officer in his charge. They also hire a local Irishman as a guide, played brilliantly by The Crying Game’s Stephen Rea.
There is an amazing things going on in this film; interpersonal betrayals, betrayal of government after service, the bond between warriors, forged in battle, as well as the anxiety in the characters from always seeing the starving people of Ireland. This film has an amazing depth, that goes miles beyond being just a revenge film.
This film gets a solid 10 out of 10 Potatoes