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Black 47

Lance Daly

There are some critics who will question the wisdom of setting a Western against the backdrop of Ireland’s Great Famine, but Lance Daly’s Black 47, while rooted in that history, is a universally-recognisable fable and a riveting tale of hardship and revenge.

It’s 1847 and Feeney (Animal Kingdom’s James Frecheville) is returning home to the west of Ireland after years of fighting for the British army abroad. He discovers his country in the grip of famine: one million people have already perished, including his mother. The family home has been rendered uninhabitable and his brother has been killed by the British. Feeney’s plan to travel to American to start a new life is now in question; the horrors and injustices to which he bears witness steer him toward another path, one that will find him exerting his wrath upon officials, collaborators, and others in power. As the British dispatch a four-man crew, including Feeney’s reluctant old army comrade Hannah (Hugo Weaving), to stop Feeney on his quest for justice, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins.

Black 47 is certainly no dry history lesson – it is filled with haunting visions of blighted landscapes, riveting moments of action, and fantastic performances from its ensemble cast, which also features Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Jim Broadbent, and the scene-stealing Stephen Rea.