Five minutes of Heaven – A brilliant film goes straight to TV, and it’s this sort of thing that makes me angry….

I meant to post this about three weeks ago after “Five minutes of Heaven”, starring Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt was presented on the BBC as a one-off TV drama.
The whole thing is, it’s a film – and a brilliant film at that. It was produced by Big Fish Films, Ruby Films, BBC Drama Northern Ireland and was co-financed by Northern Ireland Screen.
It won both the World Cinema Director Award (fiction) for Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) and the World Cinema Screenwriting Award for Guy Hibbert at Sundance this year. It’s being distributed in Ireland by Element, and Pathe have all other rights except for the UK. So, obviously, no one in the UK was prepared to see that the film got what it deserved – to be on general theatrical release. Instead, no theatrical release at all.
Five minutes of Heaven tells the true story of how, in 1975, 17-year-old Alistair Little, a member of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Forces) murdered a 19-year-old Catholic, Jim Griffin, in Lurgan. He was arrested two weeks later, along with three others involved in the shooting, and convicted. He served 12-and-a-half years in prison.
Jim’s murder was witnessed by his 11-year-old brother, Joe Griffin, and the impact of Jim’s death destroyed his family, who could not come to terms with the loss. But most of the film is devoted to exploring what both men think about both the past and each other today. It is of enormous relevance to the burning contemporary issues of why young men are prepared to join organisations pledged to the committing of atrocities against innocent ‘others’; as well as the dificulties and desperate need for truth and reconciliation.
Both central perofrmances are truly magnificent – and even more so because the protestant killer is played by a catholic, and the desperately psychologically damaged catholic by a protestant – and here James Nesbitt gives probably the best performance that I’ve seen since Bruno Ganz in Reinhard Hauff’s “Knife in the Head” (1978).
But this is what we’ve been reduced to. Even a truly great award winning star cast essential piece of cinema like this doesn’t get its just desserts in its own country. We just get subjected to American pap and the occasional “Lesbian Vampire Killers”.
Doesn’t it make you thirst for revenge?


One Response to “Five minutes of Heaven – A brilliant film goes straight to TV, and it’s this sort of thing that makes me angry….”

  1. New Film Blog Says:

    Interesting blog. I agree with blatant films only being shown only on TV. Red Riding which was shown on Channel 4 recently, was fantastic and a blatant film material however it was only shown on TV. I hear though it’s been picked up at Cannes Film Festival and with be shown at cinemas in America. So maybe companies take their products like ‘Five minutes of heaven to festivals it could be shown in other countries on cinema screens?

    Check out my blog if you get a chance.
    Oliver Hunt – New Film Blog

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