In the Name of the Father
directed by Jim Sheridan
(Universal, 1993)

In the Name of the Father is the true story of the family wrongly imprisoned for the 5 October 1974 bombing of The Horse & Groom, a tavern in Guilford, England. It is based on an autobiographical book written about the atrocity, Proved Innocent by Gerry Conlon. This movie is drama at its finest. You will be astounded at the miscarriage of justice in this case and the lengths the authorities went in an attempt to keep the truth covered up.

The title might seem a bit odd until you watch the movie or read the plot. The father, Giuseppe Conlon (played by Pete Postlethwaite), was sentenced to 30 years. He and his son Gerry (Daniel Day-Lewis), also given 30 years, were sent to Park Royal Maximum Security Prison and listed as Category A prisoners -- prisoners who had the fewest privileges and were watched most closely. Giuseppe's health degenerated and he died there. Gerry continued to fight to prove their innocence in order to clear his father's name.

Even though they had produced an airtight alibi, four members of the family were convicted of the deaths of five people, as well as 11 other criminal counts. Seven other members of the family were convicted of possession of explosive materials and supporting a group of terrorists. The worst part of it was that 16-year-old Vincent and 14-year-old Patrick Maguire were among the convicted, and were given five and four years. The authorities seemed to be doing a "clean sweep" of the family, rounding up everyone who might be able to launch a fight against them.

I was really moved by this movie. The acting was solid and believable all the way through, especially the actions of Gerry's mother in the courtroom. There have been remarks that the English are very formal in their courtrooms and that this movie is an extreme exaggeration of what went on during the hearings. Personally, I found it entirely believable and would have been much worse in court than any of these people if I had been in their shoes. I think the respect and formality go out the window when you are innocent and facing a charge that could result in your execution. Perhaps those formal Englishmen are not accustomed to having an entire family of innocents facing such heinous charges.

I really liked seeing Day-Lewis in this part. He was ideal for the role. He has that look and air about him that make you believe he could and would have been mixed up in a mess like this. He deserved an Oscar for this acting job.

This is one movie that every citizen of America should see. I felt much better knowing that governments other our own do this type of railroading for political or social reasons. At least we are not the only screwed-up country in the world! It does reinforce the statement that you should never think it cannot or will not happen to you. This film proves that it can happen to anybody!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 7 June 2003

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