The controversial film 'Some Mother's Son' recalls a painful chapter in the history of Northern Ireland told from the point of view of two fictional women whose sons are on hunger strike in the Maze Prison in Belfast campaigning for political status.
It recalls the dirty protests in the Maze Prison in the early 80s.
The film stars Helen Mirren and Fionnula Flanagan as the two mothers who, when their sons fall into comas, are faced with the moral dilemma of whether to abide by their sons' wishes, or to go against them and have them forcibly fed.
The protagonists are from different backgrounds. Mirren plays Kathleen Quigley a pacifist whose comfortable life is shattered when her son joins the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and is arrested. In contrast, Flanagan’s character Annie Higgins is a hard-line republican who supports her son’s decision to take part in the hunger strike.
She supports her son's decision because to renege on that is really not to support him as a man.
The film is a fictionalised account of what happened in 1981. Writer and director Terry George who also co-wrote the critically acclaimed screenplay for 'In the Name of the Father' directed by Jim Sheridan, believes the film to be an honest assessment of what was going on at the time.
While receiving a broadly favourable reaction at the Cannes Film Festival, not all critics are supportive of the film. Film critic of the London Evening Standard Alexander Walker’s chief objection is
It wraps up a very divisive political message inside an emotional story that is hard to resist.
Walker finds it difficult not to sympathise with the mothers and women in the film, but does not think there is enough emphasis placed on the acts of terrorism carried out by the Maze hunger strikers.
A 'Morning Ireland' report from Colm Connolly broadcast on 12 September 1996.
Following the Irish premiere of 'Some Mother's Son' Helen Mirren and Terry George speak to Gay Byrne on 'The Late Late Show' about their roles in the film and the questions raised by the film.
This episode of ‘The Late Late Show’ was broadcast on 13 September 1996.