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Thursday, February 26, 2015

'The Hanging Gale' DVD: Fascinating Tale of 1846 Irish Potato Famine


The Hanging Gale DVD
As the recent Unreal TV review of the BFS Entertainment DVD release of "Troubles," which is about the turbulent political climate in 1919 Ireland mentions, the BFS DVD release of the BBC dramatic miniseries  "The Hanging Gale" is a good companion to that set.

The accolades for "Gale" include four BAFTA nominations and Golden FIPA Award wins in the "TV Series and Serials" and "TV Series and Serials: Best Actor" categories.

One of the nicest things about "Gale" from the perspective of an individual who has written 1,000s of reviews is that the the IMDB summary for this mini-series describes it so well that it saves a little time and effort regarding that post. This synopsis states "the four brothers of the Phelan family battle to save their farm and their family from the ravages of the Irish Potato Famine in 1846, and from an English land agent who takes a dislike to them."

"Gale" is notable as well for the McGann brothers (who apparently are the Baldwins of Ireland) playing the Phalen brothers and doing very well in their roles.

"Gales" opens with a dramatic scene in which the McGann boys play a central role regarding events that lead to aforementioned land agent Captain William Townsend moving to their community of Donegal Ireland. This opening segment clearly establishes the intense animosity that the Irish farmers feel regarding the English nobleman who owns their land.

The ensuing events depict the increasing animosity and desperation of the locals and the steadfast determination of Townsend, who makes some efforts to be receptive to the plight of the tenants, to enforce the terms of the leases despite the lack of food to sell or even sustain those farming it. The fallout from this conflict includes the death of at least one major character fairly early in the series.

One Phalen son being a schoolteacher and another being a priest further contributes to the drama.

Said desperation begets brutal violence in the name of justice, drives one brother to essentially become a reluctant barroom brawler for essentially a pittance, and results in two of our heroes becoming guests of the queen.

For his part, Townsend is caught in the crossfire in that he is obliged to carry out the directives of his employer but literally must face the destitute and suffering locals every day. This conflict is especially apparent regarding one abrupt eviction of a leading citizen of the community and a later similar ousting of a troublemaker.

These elements of the film put a human face on the famine and greatly increase the knowledge of the average layman regarding that event. Reading about people starving and facing other intense hardships more than 150 years ago is one thing; seeing skilled actors living through it in a seemingly realistic manner is far different.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Gale" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.