Channel 4’s timely exploration of Northern Ireland on screen is a reminder of some fine films about the Troubles
As the government prepares to prorogue parliament and a no-deal Brexit becomes an ominous probability, the contentious matter of the “Irish backstop” is no longer a technical complication in a wider political argument: it is now a tangible, terrifying crisis in itself. Will our leaders, in their rash drive to force through Brexit at all costs, really risk a hard border in Ireland after such hard-won peace between north and south? Have the Troubles been forgotten so soon?
It’s surely with that rhetorical question in mind that Channel 4 and Film4 have rather cunningly kicked off September with a film mini-season dedicated to cinema of the Troubles – broadcast at scheduled night-owl times, but rather more conveniently continued on their All4 streaming service. The centrepiece of it all – premiering on Channel 4 tonight, before hitting All4 for 30 days – is 50 Years of the Troubles: A Journey Through Film, an hour-long documentary from irrepressible, Belfast-born film historian Mark Cousins, in which he considers the role cinema played as both an escape route and a representative snapshot for Irish folk caught in the turmoil.