From Novel to Screen: Six Irish women writers who paved the way…

Edith Somerville and Ross

Always inspiring to see the novels of Irish female authors transfer to the big screen through film adaptations. A few that come to mind straight way are Edna O’Brien , Celia Aherne, the late Maeve Binchy, and Emma Donoghue. But how many others can you name?

I came up with the following Six:

 

1: Katherine Cecil Thurston: The Masquerader 

Katherine Cecil Madden was born in Cork in 1885. Thurston was her married name. Her novels were successful in both Britain and America. She also wrote The Gambler (1905) and Max (1910) Thurston’s career was cut short at the age of 36 when she was found dead in her hotel room in Cork.

Masquerader

John Chilcote, M.P (1904) Thurston’s political thriller, became the book and film, The Masquerader in the United States. It was filmed four times, the first as a silent film in 1912 under the title The Compact. The second production was in 1920, a Russian/French co-production titled Chlen parlamenta. It was also produced in 1922, and again in 1933 starring Ronald Colman

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2: Dorothy McArdle: The Uninvited

Born in Dundalk in 1889 and from a wealthy brewing family, Dorothy was a journalist, novelist, playwright, teacher, political activist and historian. She wrote The Irish Republic,  a narrative account of the Irish War of Independence, and her novels include The Dark Enchantment (1953), The Unforeseen (1946) and Uneasy Freehold (1941), which later became The Uninvited (1942). She died in 1958.

The_Uninvited_(1944_film)

The Uninvited (1944) starred Ray Miland, Ruth Hussey and Donald Crisp. A supernatural romance, it was directed by Lewis Allen with adaptation written by Frank Partos and Dodie Smith, (yes, she of The Hundred and One Dalmatians!)

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3: R.A. Dick: The Ghost and Mrs Muir

R.A. Dick was the pseudonym of Irish writer Josephine Aimee Campbell Leslie. Very little is known about Josephine. She was born in Wexford in 1898 and died in 1979. She also wrote Duet for Two Hands (1960) and The Devil and Mrs Devine (1974).

ghost-and-mrs_-muir

The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) starred Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison and George Sanders. A supernatural romance, it was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz with adaptation written by Philip Dunne. Philip also wrote the screenplay for The Last of the Mohicans (1992). A TV sitcom of The Ghost and Mrs Muir ran from 1968 – 1970.

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4: Somerville and Ross: The Irish RM

Somerville (Edith Anna Somerville:1858-1949) and Ross (Violet Florence Martin: 1862-1915) were Irish cousins who collaborated on writing novels and short stories about the Irish society of their time.

The Irish RM

The successful TV series of ‘The Irish R.M.’ was based on their collection of short stories, Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. written in 1899. Other works by the authors include  An Irish Cousin (1889) and The Real Charlotte (1894)

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5: Elizabeth Bowen: The Last September

Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899. Her works include Friends and Relations (1931) The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945) and Eva Trout (1968). She died in 1973.

The last September

Set against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, and centred on the lives of the Naylor family in their Cork country mansion Danielstown, the film was released in 1999, starring Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon.

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6: Time after time: Molly Keane

Molly Keane was born in Kildare in 1904, real name, Mary Nesta Skrine. Between 1928 and 1956, she wrote eleven novels, and some plays, under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell. She used her married name, Keane, for her later novels, several of which have been adapted for television.

Time after time

 

‘Time after Time’ (1986) was made for TV, and starred John Gielgud, Googie Withers and Trevor Howard. It was directed by Bill Hays, with screenplay written by Andrew Davies, who also wrote the screenplay for Bridget Jones Diary and lately, House of Cards, Mister Selfridge and War and Peace.

 

 

Women in Irish Film: Short Film Programme at MFFA

Women in Film short films

I was delighted to be asked to curate a short film programme for Maynooth Film for All [MFFA], a joint partnership between Kildare Library & Arts Service and the School of English, Theatre and Media Studies in Maynooth University. The film club is also affiliated with access>CINEMA.

Hosted by the University and generally held in the IONTAS Building on the first Tuesday of every month, the short film programme ran from October 2015 to April 2016. Each of the films I selected screened before the main feature. All were well received and attendance figures were consistently good.

I decided to theme the programme around Women in Irish Film, mainly to raise awareness and to showcase some of the fantastic talent that is out there, but also to take an opportunity to screen a wide variety of different themes and styles of filmmaking. I received far more films than I could actually screen, which is a pity as there are so many talented writers/directors out there. I’ve included links to the filmmakers and their works below for further reference.

 

Vanessa Gildea: The Abandoning

Abandoning_Poster_for_Web copy

Creates the memory of a house where past and present are not separate places

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Hannah Quinn: My Bonnie

My Bonnie 4 x 6

Two people at sea, trapped between a rock and a hard place, must face the distance

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Aoife Kelleher: Home

Home

A film about how our lives are shaped by the homes in which we grow up

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Helen Flanagan: Drive

Drive

An unhappy mother struggles to connect with her infant daughter

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Lydia Ford, Olivia Flanagan, Gemma Stack: Parallel

parallel-poster-file-for-_web

A coming-of-age drama follows a schoolboy as his day unfolds and he transforms from his typical popular persona to his true self

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Eimear O’Grady: The Climb

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For most people Kilimanjaro is their Mount Everest. The reason for climbing is personal

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Audrey O’Reilly: Wait

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When an important pigeon race and a rare visit home by his son Martin coincide, Charlie waits anxiously for a safe journey home

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I wish all of the talented women featured here, and indeed, all of those I couldn’t include in the final selection, the very best of everything with their future projects, and let’s all keep striving for that level playing field in the film industry!

 

 

Sun’s Whitening: imagining Patrick Pearse’s final thoughts…

Sun's Whitening

For the day that’s in it, Easter Sunday, 2016 – set on the eve of his death, my imagining of Patrick’s Pearse’s final thoughts…

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SUN’S WHITENING

Written by

Caroline Farrell, 2016

All Rights Reserved

Farrell.caroline@gmail.com / http://www.carolinefarrellwriter.com

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FADE IN:

DUBLIN. IRELAND: 1916 – THE AFTERMATH

INT. CELL. KILMAINHAM GOAL – NIGHT

A  PRISONER sits on the floor, a vague shadow, his shoulders stooped; he is muttering into his chest.

PRISONER

…that the slender worm gnaws thee tonight…

He lifts his head, still in shadow until an ethereal glint of blinding sun floods his eyes to the sound of gushing waves lapping over shoal and sand…

EXT. BLASKET ISLAND. SHORE – DAY

An attractive woman, EVELYN NICHOLS, 24, barefoot, her clothing wet and clinging. Skirt hitched high, her shapely legs splash in the water as she frolics flirtatiously with her companions to the sound of rambunctious young male laughter…

EXT. CONNEMARA. MAAM CROSS – DAY

Same rambunctious laughter echoes…

ON the intense gaze of schoolteacher, PATRICK PEARSE, 31. Straight-laced, purist, he disembarks from the train and calmly leads a small group of BOYS aged 14-16 – counting heads as they jostle, buoyant, aboard a hay-lined, horse-drawn cart.

PATRICK

Right, lads. It’s a good ten miles to Ros Muc – so nestle in there now and hold tight.

It is a gentle order, but an order nonetheless as Patrick, holding the animal’s reins, marches alongside the moving cart for the long, picturesque hike…

As the trek through winding country roads progresses, songs are sung, dusk falling around the lake waters…

COLLECTIVE VOICES [singing]

When laws can stop the blades of grass from growin’ as they grow

And when the leaves in summer-time their colour dare not show

Then I will change the colour too I wear in my caubeen

But till that day, please God, I’ll stick to the Wearin’ o’ the Green!

Patrick does not smile, though his eyes are alight with pride.

 

CUT TO:

INT. SAINT ENDA’S BOYS SCHOOL. DUBLIN – DAY

Empty, masculine dormitories; empty hallways; only the sound of female laughter echoes from the second floor of the Victorian mansion…

 

INT. BEDROOM. SAINT ENDA’S – DAY

WILLIAM PEARSE, 29, is thin, boyish and good-humoured. Covered in patches of sculpting clay and little else in the way of clothing, he works his fingers deftly on a foot-high sculpture of a female form.

A cigarette hangs from his lips as he concentrates on the curves of the FEMALE model draped on his single bed…

A pretty teenager, MABEL GORMAN; naked and purposefully supine.

MABEL

If only your Brother Patrick could see you now!

She breaks into a giggle as William wipes his hand through his thick unruly hair, depositing yet more of the sticky clay there.

MABEL (CONT’D)

How could you two be cut from the same cloth? The celibate and the sex maniac!

William gives her a wicked grin, abandoning the sculpture to jump on top of her, clay everywhere as she squeals with delight.

 

EXT. ROS MUC COTTAGE – DAY

Patrick takes a moment to breathe in the fresh morning air and to savour the lush view of lakes and green pastures below…

Evelyn is there, sitting in the grass, her inviting curves bridled within the fitted jacket and skirt uniform of a proud suffragette. She looks directly towards him, a coy smile as she waves her gloved hand…

The boisterous sounds from his male pupils rouse him from the moment lost as tired from their journey, they nevertheless leap excitedly from the cart and enter the quaint and freshly white-washed cottage.

 

INT. COTTAGE – DAY

The front door leads straight into the main room, bare stone floors, with a large fireplace; a table and some chairs are placed neatly against the walls.

The boys spread out excitedly into two other rooms, to the left and right, depositing their belongings on the single beds.

Patrick sees to the fire, lighting it with old rolled-up newspapers and sticks. He offers a black cast iron pot to one of the boys, JAMES, 16.

PATRICK

Fill this from the pump outside, I’ll be making my famous porridge breakfast.

James makes a face of mock horror, to which Patrick raises an eyebrow. James responds with a soldier’s stance and salute.

JAMES

Yes, Master Pearse!

In good humour, James runs outside to the water pump as Patrick empties his rucksack onto the table; an assortment of books, pens, paper and a holy bible.

EVELYN (V.O)

Holy books can’t keep you warm at night, my love.

Patrick frowns.

LATER

Gathered around the half-light of the open fire, the boys huddle in blankets as Patrick regales them…

PATRICK

What story shall I tell you tonight, boys?

JAMES

Diarmuid and Grainne, Sir. Love that one!

An enthusiastic murmur abounds from the testosterone-fuelled adolescents.

PATRICK

Ah yes. Grainne, the very beautiful, and wilful daughter of Cormac, King of Tara.

JAMES

Wilful – and gorgeous!

As the boys snort through their laughter, Patrick ignores the comment.

PATRICK

She was a temptress who seduced the warrior Diarmuid, despite her having just married Fionn.

JAMES

Ah yeah, Sir, but Fionn was an auld fellah by then, and Grainne was ripe-

Patrick suddenly leaps to his feet, and yet, as the collectively shocked intake of breath at James’s cheeky comment fills the space, Patrick doesn’t seem to have heard it; his vision is suddenly overtaken by Evelyn…

Thrashing on the choppy sea waters… She is DROWNING…

Patrick suddenly runs from the cottage, retching as he exits. The boys all look to James, who shrugs his shoulders.

CUT TO:

INT. COLLEGE HALL. DUBLIN – DAY

Patrick addresses a large crowd.

PATRICK

We must accustom ourselves to the thought of arms, to the use of arms.

We may make mistakes in the beginning – but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing.

And a nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood!

 

As the words spill, he is distracted by the vision of Evelyn… there in the front row, wearing her Pankhurst portrait badge. Hanging on his every word; oozing with sorrow.

PATRICK (CONT’D)

There are many things more horrible than bloodshed; and slavery is one of them.

As he falters on his own words, she fades before him. Patrick wipes the sweat from his brow as he sits down, a glazed look in his eyes…

 

EXT. PARK – DAY

Patrick and Evelyn walk together, a civilized distance between them, though he can barely take his eyes off her.

EVELYN

You are so right, Paddy. It hurts my heart to think of the cane striking tender young skin in the name of education.

How can one be expected to learn anything when one is too frightened to be wrong?

PATRICK

Will you marry me, Evelyn? Will you?

EVELYN

Dear heart, we’ve been over this before, please don’t spoil our perfect time together.

 

A dark mood flushes over him.

PATRICK

You break my heart, Miss Nichols. And for what, to end up a lonely spinster?!

 

Evelyn stops, wounded by such insensitivity.

EVELYN

Paddy! How cruel?

Contrite, he kneels before her.

 

PATRICK

Can’t you see, it is one thing to be a champion of feminist rights, and how I adore you for that.

And it is another noble disposition to maintain such focus on feminist education-

 

Evelyn cuts him off.

EVELYN

It has nothing to do with being noble – it is my right!

Feminist education is the root of all education, of all improvement .

And who, above men should know this better than the man before me now?

 

She places her hand on his chest, and he holds it there, over his heart.

 

PATRICK

Yes, yes of course, but-

 

EVELYN

You, Paddy Pearse – surrounded and nurtured by the most matronly and wise feminist intellects-

 

He trembles with frustration.

PATRICK

And even they have their place!

 

Fire lights up in Evelyn’s eyes. She pulls her hand away.

 

EVELYN

Shackled to a homestead and endless childbirths? Forbidden to work, to possess, to debate, to contribute?!

Is that what you want for me? Paddy, is it?

 

PATRICK

There is grace in motherhood. And there is duty to family. That is nobility in its purist-

 

Stunned, Evelyn bites back tears.

 

EVELYN

Purist! You bloody hypocrite!

How do I love such a man who praises my hungry mind and yet preaches nothing but slavery for me?!

 

She turns on her heels so he cannot see her fight tears.

 

EVELYN (CONT’D)

I will give you my heart, and my body, Mister Pearse.

But I will not give you my youth and freedom while you recklessly sacrifice yours. I will not give in to your prudish double standards!

 

She waits for his reply, but none is forthcoming. Evelyn marches away.

Patrick lets her go as sunlight glints strongly to blur his retreating vision of her until she fades from his sight

 

INT. CELL. KILMAINHAM GOAL – NIGHT

Patrick sits on the floor, shoulders stooped, muttering to his chest.

 

PATRICK

Reality returns with the sun’s whitening

 

EXT. COURTYARD. KILMAINHAM GOAL – DAY

Patrick stands tall, his back to a blood-spattered, bullet- riddled wall. As the blindfold closes in, he sees Evelyn there, moving closer, her hands reaching out, close enough to touch…

FADE TO BLACK.

Sun’s Whitening is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner for the purposes of drama.

Horrendously delicious: Psych-horror with some of the best female leads

IMG_0872-001

So here are ten of my favourites:

Carrie [1976]

Carrie

A gamut of emotional charges, you won’t forget Carrie. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie – need I say more?

The Others [2001]

The Others

I consider this film to be close to perfection. Nicole Kidman – Fionnula Flanagan – and something supernatural.

Rosemary’s Baby [1968]

Rosemary's Baby

Mia Farrow at her most mesmerizing. Babies and devils – what’s not to like?

Pan’s Labyrinth [2006]

Pan's Labyrinth

Spellbinding and monstrously beautiful. Ivana Baquero’s ‘Ophelia’ comes of age in a dark parable.

The Descent [2005]

The Descent

Tense and claustrophobic with all female cast including our very own Sarah-Jane Moone. Your skin will ‘crawl’.

The Innocents [1961]

The Innocents

The chill of the haunt is superb. Deborah Kerr – and all the classic ingredients for a stunning, shivering experience.

The Orphanage [2007]

The Orphanage

The most frightening ghosts are always the children. Unless you are made of stone, you will cry with Belén Rueda.

Misery [1990]

Misery

A woman obsessed – a woman scorned. Who would mess with Annie Wilkes? Kathy Bates rocks.

Julia’s Eyes [2010]

Julias Eyes

So what if you couldn’t see? Who would you trust? A classic ‘danger lurking in the shadows’ and another great performance from Belén Rueda.

The Babadook [2014]

Babadook

One of my favourites of recent times. A disturbing mind f**k from Essie Davies and her portrayal of troubled mother, Amelia.

So what is IN RIBBONS about?

1

Oft asked question. And not one that can ever be summed up in one clinical logline. When you see our short film, and I hope there will be many, many opportunities to do so, you’ll know more about what it is through the visual experience of it, and that’s why I wrote it sans dialogue.

I’m a fan of the less-is-more in most areas of life, but especially so in writing, and believe that scripts should be sparse enough to let a story unfold with unhindered visualisation. I get exhausted by endless dialogue, whether on the page or off it, and after all, actions speak louder than words; it is between the gaps that life is lived.

We experience each transient moment though all of our senses; how we feel is what stays with us. In my creation of it, IN RIBBONS is a feeling. A little girl’s feeling her way through a journey that she has no control over; a journey that will change her life forever. For the viewer, it is about seeing that journey through her very young and inexperienced eyes and perhaps, through our own emotions, we feel HER.

It is not a judgemental journey. It does not sensationalize that which is very personal and profound – not just for ‘Laurie’ – but for thousands of ‘forever’ children like her, taken on that same journey, some unwittingly tricked, some kicking and screaming, some so damaged, so desensitized that it didn’t really matter what the destination.

All need to be acknowledged. I hope IN RIBBONS does that, and in a respectful, honourable way. Telling it as it was; un-uttered explanations; unapologetic abandonment; unyielding walls. But also, and more importantly, it is an ode to the warriors. It is a eulogy to the human condition of unbreakable spirit.

Locked doors keep the darkness of that ‘otherworld’ inside, where the victim of the victim remains. In the stifle, in the grey deafening. And when they are gone, and we can’t remember who they were, but what they did, dear heart, the tears go wandering also.  So what is IN RIBBONS about? It is how a warrior earned her shield.

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The Memory Wandering…

The Memory Wandering

I don’t claim to know that much in regard to all things poetic, and would never describe myself as such, but occasionally, in moments of emotive thought or reflection, I jot down what comes to the page and let it be.

The Memory Wandering was written some time ago and is themed around forgiveness and letting go. Common enough themes for humanity, but often the most difficult to get a handle on and more than often, unresolved.

Director of IN RIBBONS, Marie-Valerie Jeantelot, read the poem and decided to include it at the closing of our film, and in a wonderful gesture, her father, Charles Jeantelot, has translated it into French, that most beautiful language of the romantics.

La Mémoire Divaguant
La mémoire divaguant de la conscience
Et victime de victime demeure
Dans la suffocation
Dans le gris assourdissant
Et quand ils sont partis
Et quand on ne se souvient plus de ce qu’ils furent
Mais de ce qu’ils avaient fait
Cher cœur 
Les larmes s’en vont divaguant a leur tour
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 Not many of us can walk through life without heartache, or the lingering weight of it, so, I’m putting The Memory Wandering out there, as a gift to anyone, whom in any way, might find it helpful. PEACE X

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