The Secret of the Roan Inish (1994)
Genre: Drama, Family, Fantasy
Directed by John Sayles
Starring Jeni Courtney, Eileen Colgan and Mick Lally
Plot: Ten-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village in Dongal, Ireland. She soon learns a local legend that ma have more truth to it than it seems.
Movie Fact: Usually, movies use sea lions during filming because they are less shy and can be easier to train. This film, however, to remain true to the lore, used a combination of trained Harbor Seals and animatronic puppets.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Phillip: Okay, I am really excited for this week. This has always been one of my favorite movies and I can’t wait to share it with more people!
Genevieve: Yeah, you showed me this movie right when we met and I fell in love immediately. It is actually based on a book that I really want to read now. You are the resident librarian, Jessica. Have you ever read this book?
Jessica: Not yet, but when you were watching could you recognize the grandfather’s voice? It is the same actor that voiced Brother Aiden from Secret of Kells.
Genevieve: Wow! Now that you say that, I do hear it! I don’t know why I didn’t connect that sooner! I love this movie. From the very beginning, it takes the entire film from Fiona’s perspective. The scene at the bar where the camera is right at her level is such a beautiful introduction.
Phillip: Also, it is just a happy coincidence that the wine I paired with this is called Fiano and her name is Fiona. I thought it was ironic, though. I love Fiona. Her character design was done really well. All the characters and the sets were well done. It truly felt realistic for the time it is meant to take place in. Plus, being the father of two girls, I can attest that her hair throughout the film is spot on. Even when it is done, it is still windswept and loose.
Genevieve: Every does work very well together to give you a certain feeling. My favorite aspect is the absolute way that they tell the story. Everyone phrases it in a way that they don’t want to sound crazy, but in their heart they believe it. It doesn’t sound like a fairytale, it sounds like history when it is being told. The character’s make it so real, and the script reads like poetry.
Jessica: Yeah, like the grandfather just shutting down toward the end of the plot. Legally, there are aspects of the plot that could no longer happen. But this did happen to many families during the time.
Genevieve: One this I believe is a major theme of this movie is the relationship between the land and sea. They are opposing elements, but they work in a beautiful harmony when respected. It does a great job in showing how water and earth can fight each other fiercely, but also help each other. The sea almost drowns one of fiona’s ancestors, and later the earth (cows) bring him back to life. The love of another ancestor’s life was given to him by the sea, but her love of the sea took her away. The sea provides life and protection to the subsequent generations, but when they abandon their home on the island, the sea “reclaims” it’s toll by taking Jamie.
Phillip: It’s actually a lot like our wine choice for this movie. I chose this wine because it has a certain element to it that is almost briny. It has heavy floral notes on the nose, and you get a bite of brine when you drink it. It feels like that same balance that they are going for in the movie of the sea and the earth.
Genevieve: I can see that, for sure. It is delicious. It almost smells like a field of flowers, with maybe some green house dirt? I get the brine on the tongue for sure. And it is not dry at all, but not sweet either. I can taste that balance for sure. I want this with some alfredo pasta next time.
Phillip: Agreed. But back to this lovely film. I picked it for a reason: it is one of my favorite films ever. No matter how many times I watch this film, it always makes me tear up at the end. The instant belief of the grandmother and her jump to action, the loving actions of the seals. I really don’t know which emotion it is but I feel so hopeful and happy when it is all said and done. This will always be a favorite movie for me.
Genevieve: I cannot agree more. It just feels like a big warm hug in all the right ways.
Jessica: I liked it, but I haven’t watched it as much.