• James Rutherford

'In the Name of the Father': A Searing Depiction of Unjust Persecution and Imprisonment


Movie poster for the film In the Name of the Father starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon

"In the Name of the Father" (1993) is a searing biographical drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon, a petty thief living in Belfast, Northern Ireland circa 1974. Forced to relocate to London due to trouble with the Irish Republican Army, Conlon is falsely accused of participating in the Guildford Pub Bombings in October of that year, which resulted in the death of 4 British soldiers.

Living as a transient squatter without employment, Conlon robs a prostitute in Guilford the evening of the bombing and is ultimately misidentified by a fellow squatter as a participant in the attack. He is subsequently arrested by the British Army alongside close mate Paul Hill (John Lynch), and brutally tortured into making a false confession to the crime. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Gerry remains woefully unprepared for what will come: a harsh prison sentence, the arrival of his own father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite) on trumped-up charges, and the incursion of Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson), a crusading lawyer fiercely dedicated to his liberation.

Based on Conlon's autobiography "Proved Innocent" and directed by Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot, "The Boxer"), "In the Name of the Father" is a incendiary tale of prejudice and redemption, made wholly affecting thanks to Sheridan's mastery behind the camera as well as Day-Lewis' extraordinary performance as the aggrieved Conlon. Afire with a fury and passion rarely delivered so palpably on film, it's an achingly true dramatization of one man's real-life struggle against the myriad forces of social injustice.

 

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