Monday, May 19, 2008


I waited a long time-- over 2 years -- after seeing this FINE FILM before reviewing it for you. I just had to think about it for a while. It's such a funny combination of simple and complex -- beautiful and hideous -- secure and dangerous to our glorious Cause.



Today’s selection is the touching tale of how a little Irish girl convinces her struggling landscum human family to reconnect to the Selkie branch of the family and move back to the island (Roan Inish) where they TRULY BELONG. Simple enough, eh? NOT SO FAST.

This film (or "fillum," as they say on the auld sod) is a fascinating combination of FINE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURAL INTERCHANGE, and SECURITY LEAKS that nevertheless PROMOTE OUR CAUSE FEARLESSLY.

>> We get to see a startlingly accurate representation of WHAT OUR OPERATIVES GO THROUGH, raising families on land and maybe loving it while daily LONGING TO GO HOME.

>> We see many quaint Irish customs, like sending a little girl out for the day in a heavy sweater because it’s chilly out, but not making her wear any shoes.

>> We see a half-aquatic matriarchy combining CLUELESS LANDSCUM types with no inkling of their heritage, who work in factories and drink a lot of beer, with others who are MORE OUR SORT, catching fish with their BARE HANDS for a living.
>> We get to see recruiting as it really is -- a delightful process for all concerned.

>> The protagonist of the story is a little half-orphaned girl who’s never been let in on her family history. She just knows what a terrible thing it was to lose her mother, her home and her little brother Jamie all at the same time. What nobody in this family seems to notice is what a WEIRD THING it is that at the moment the family is leaving the island forever on the day of Mom’s funeral, Jamie’s cradle – a family heirlooom specially made to allow the women of the family to rock their babies on the ocean – launches itself onto the waves, with Jamie inside it, and disappears. It doesn’t sink; it just sails out of sight. The family searches for a while, then gives up and leaves as planned. This is TERRIBLY IRISH of them, to just shrug and move on in the face of what can only be described as an otherworldly intervention. NOBODY SEEMS TO MAKE THE CONNECTION that a large segment of the family is entirely aquatic, and may be trying to TELL THEM SOMETHING.

>> For once, we get to see an accurate representation of the way our operatives really work when we lure men into the sea. The Selkie is ravishing in her human form -- not played by some pug-ugly American starlet for a change! -- and takes on her task as willingly as anyone could hope to ask. She does an elegant job of convincing her husband that HE captured HER, not the other way around. And when her half-aquatic daughter gives the homing signal, she squares her shoulders and RETURNS TO HEADQUARTERS. What's ironic is the way they simply SHOW IT THE WAY IT REALLY IS, in the process convincing the human viewer that IT CAN'T REALLY HAPPEN. This is truly THE SECURITY LEAK THAT WASN'T.
>> The Selkie's name is Nuala -- not sure of the spelling there, you know how Irish phonetics are -- but her name is clearly a joke that ONLY A FISH CAN APPRECIATE. She was "caught" by her husband while sunning herself on a rock, mermaidlike, and her name is the same as the Sun Goddess the locals worship -- and sacrifice virgins to -- on Summerisle, another quaint spot in the ocean inhabited by secretive Celts.

There are so many other things about this movie to make the two-chambered heart glad:

>> This is a good demonstration of how humans, even the ones who are part fish, fail to see what's going on. For crying out loud, the whole family knows they’re descended from a Selkie and live on fish and seaweed soup, without ever making the connection that it might be a bad idea to repudiate that branch of the family.

>> NOBODY ELSE WHO KNOWS THE FAMILY BATS AN EYE, EITHER. There's a guy in this story, a sort of sport who's much more Selkielike than the others, who catches fish with his bare hands. Even those who know he's just showing his Selkie roots just shrug and ignore it. In America he would probably be diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder and put on an anticonvulsant. Next time you’re trying to conceal the scales forming on your shoulders, BUCK UP. Probably nobody will notice, even if you wear something backless.

>> This is a fine example of how ultimately FORGIVING we sea folk are. The humans, even the recruited ones, turn their backs on us, and we might choose to return the compliment. But we wait, and we give them second chances, when it would be SO MUCH EASIER to just KILL and EAT them.

>> It’s nice to see us portrayed POSITIVELY for a change. The Selkie founder of the family is a good wife and mother, and leaves a powerful legacy for future generations, MUCH MORE OBVIOUSLY than we can get away with here in the States. The more Selkielike scions of the family are a little hard for the landlubbers to fathom (chuckle), but nobody has a problem with them. Compare that to the plotline of, say, Humanoids From The Deep, with the landscum menfolk bundling their humiliated daughters off to an abortion clinic after they’ve been ravished by the hideous mutants. Luckily, the landscum will NEVER BELIEVE that Roan Inish is much closer to reality than Humanoids. At least not until it’s too late…

>> The movie is well made, well acted, pretty to look at, and uses real fish and Seals instead of crappy-looking cartoons superimposed on the film.

>> This is the part about how the movie is ugly to me. My strongest complaint is that the characters in this story, like those in so many fillums about the Irish, are followed everywhere by this loud, penetrating music, played on pipes, that sounds like somebody stepped on Julia Child. If this is the real-life incidental music in Ireland, well, no wonder they have a reputation for drinking.

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Blogger Ur-spo said...

i remember seeing this film - but the ending was ruined due to shoddy CD; I never did hear/see the ending. Bummer.

8:42 PM  

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