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 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. (The Making of Rocky Road to Dublin is also available, as a separate title, or purchase both for one price. See below.) 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...