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Rocky Road to Dublin

Rocky Road to Dublin

ROCKY ROAD TO DUBLIN is a provocative and revealing portrait of Ireland in the Sixties, a society characterized by a stultifying educational system, a morally repressive and politically reactionary clergy, a myopic cultural nationalism, and a government which seemingly knew no boundary between church and state. Now available in a newly-restored version prepared by The Irish Film Institute, this controversial film can at last be reassessed after a nearly forty-year period of neglect.

Encouraged by the controversy he had stirred with a series of newspaper articles and inspired by French 'New Wave' filmmakers of the era, Dublin-born Peter Lennon, who had lived and worked in Paris as a journalist for a decade, decided to revisit his native country in 1967 to make a film assessing the state of the nation.

Amidst scenes of everyday Irish life -- on the streets, in the classroom, at pubs, sporting events, dance halls, and a lively discussion amongst Trinity College students -- ROCKY ROAD TO DUBLIN blends interviews with writers Sean O'Faolain and Conor Cruise O'Brien, a spokesman for the Gaelic Athletic Association, theater producer Jim Fitzgerald, a member of the censorship board, an editor of The Irish Times, film director John Huston, and a young Catholic priest, Father Michael Cleary.

Featuring the inspired photography of legendary French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, and an incisive, literate voice-over commentary by Lennon, ROCKY ROAD TO DUBLIN captures an Ireland on the cusp of enormous social changes but still mired in a regressive, semi-theocratic mentality that would later erupt in repeated church scandals. In a striking example of the film's unwitting prescience, one of its most colorful figures-Father Cleary, "Ireland's singing priest"-was later revealed to have fathered two children with his 17-year-old housekeeper.

Although the stereotypical image of Ireland as a cultural backwater seems to bear little relation to the country's reputation today, a culturally vibrant and economically vigorous "Celtic Tiger," it is in such moments that ROCKY ROAD TO DUBLIN, as a historical film, illustrates not only how far Ireland has come but also how little it has changed.

“A glorious film.” —Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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Rocky Road to Dublin
  • Rocky Road to Dublin

    Directed by Peter Lennon • Documentary • With Seán Ó Faoláin, Conor Cruise O’Brien, John Houston • 1967 • 67 minutes

    ROCKY ROAD TO DUBLIN is a provocative and revealing portrait of Ireland in the Sixties, a society characterized by a stultifying educational system, a morally repressive and polit...

Extras

  • The Making of 'Rocky Road to Dublin'

    Directed by Paul Duane • Documentary • With Peter Lennon, Raoul Coutard • 2005 • 27 minutes

    This documentary reunites director Peter Lennon and cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who recount the making of their then controversial but now classic documentary on Ireland in the Sixties. Rocky Road to D...