Forget Barbie and Oppenheimer! Faith of our Fathers premiered on Thursday night and it was kino. And I could be wrong however, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was made in rebuttal of the Banshees of Inisherin. The latter being determined to make a mockery of our faith while the former reminds us why we must continue our tradition.
The film itself is about a priest in a small village in rural Ireland. He is trying to evade the redcoats during the penal days. This was when the British outlawed Catholicism and speaking Irish in Ireland.
Starting off with a surprise, the opening scene is a family of today’s world getting ready for Mass. A far cry from the scenes portrayed in the trailer of Ireland’s featuring countryside during the penal times. The mother and father are calling their son to get ready for Church. The son does not hear them as he is playing his Xbox with his headphones on, a “literally me” moment for zoomers. When his parents don’t receive a reply, they head to his room and find him still in bed, playing vidya. They decide to leave him at home and ask him to lift boxes up to the attic while they are away as the family have recently moved into their deceased grandfather’s home.
The first box the boy decides to move has “important” written on it. As he enters the attic, a diary falls out of the box. He begins to read it. It’s the diary on which the film is based, belonging to the priest who is a great-great-great… you get the drift. From here, the scene changes to the Irish countryside during the penal days. The scenery is beautiful and of course it is, ’tis Ireland after all.
The main theme throughout is the importance of our faith and having God to look towards to when times get tough, or to put it into Thomas J. Clarke’s words: “Clench your teeth and never say die.”
A strong sense of community Ireland once had is shown with risks taken by all to ensure the priest was protected from the redcoats, with even a Presbyterian woman allowing the priest to hide under her table while the redcoats marched through the food market seeking him. This scene reminded me of a colleague who moved house recently. He said that he was delighted that his new neighbours kept themselves to themselves. I suppose when you’re thrown into an estate with no one of a similar race or religion, how are you expected to build and maintain strong communities?
Irish is spoken throughout with hedge schools teaching the language and beautiful songs sung by the Murphy family who have been instrumental in keeping the priest safe. The daughter of the Murphy clan is due to make her communion and is excited for the right reasons too. There’s no having your kids make their communion only so they can get a few bob back then!
When the priest is captured, it’s evident there is at least one redcoat who possesses a conscience. As the soldiers take turns in beating the priest to a pulp, he refrains from doing so. The next day, the priest is sentenced to death by hanging for treason. The scene following the hanging shows the soldier receiving confession from the priest before he is wrongfully murdered, greatly illustrating the importance of forgiveness.
We are brought back to modern times for the last scene of the film. The boy’s family return home from Mass to see the boxes have not yet been moved to the attic. When they call him into the kitchen to question why, he arrives teary eyed with the diary in his hand. He says to his family that he forgot the stories his grandad would tell of the penal days and how important it is to honour our ancestors by continuing the faith. He then excuses himself to get ready for the 12:30pm mass.
Even though these were dark times in Ireland, morally speaking they were not. Our faith was never stronger and it displayed what we’re missing in modernity.
So get yourself to Mass, chud! It’s the least we can do for our generations past.