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Rebel Heart (2001)
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Directed by: John Strickland
Script by: Ronan Bennett
Status: Release A
Genre: Historical Drama (4 part TV miniseries)
Runtime: 4 x 60 min
Production Studio: Picture Palace for BBC Northern Ireland
Co-Stars: Frank Laverty, Vincent Regan, Paloma Baeza, Brendan Coyle
DVD & Blue-ray Release:
Role: Ernie Coyne
A passionate and idealistic 18 year old who defies his privileged Irish family to fight for an independent Ireland.
James about his character: Now here I am playing a passionate young Irishman who would die for what he believes in. Ernie Coyne goes on an amazing journey from boy, to ruthless republican, to responsible adult. [...] I find it incredibly romantic that people should fight for a cause they believe in and be prepared to die for it.
Plot: "Rebel Heart" follows the coming of age of a fictional character, Ernie Coyne, the scion of a family of wealthy Dublin Roman Catholics with a passionate commitment to the republican cause. He is among the few volunteers who show up to help seize the city's main post office from the British on Easter Monday. The story covers Ernie’s coming of age between the doomed Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish Civil War of 1922.
Trivia & Facts:
- Budget £6m
- A huge amount of controversy surrounded Rebel Heart because it was penned by pro-Republican Ronan Bennett.
- The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, criticized the BBC’s choice of writers, complaining that Ronan Bennett’s work was “hopelessly one-sided.” Trimble, in his turn, received a public scolding for complaining about the film before actually viewing it.
- Rebel Heart was dedicated to Terry Forrestal who died of a base-jumping accident. He had organized the battle scenes and guerrilla ambushes in the Wicklow Hills. Production was halted while Strickland and producer Malcolm Craddock attended his funeral.
- The title music by The Corrs in their album “In Blue” was nominated for a Grammy in January 2001
Film Location: Iveagh Park, Dublin Pearse Station, King’s Inn - Dublin; Wicklow County (Ireland)
Awards & Nominations:
Nymphe D’or Award for Best Director at the Monte Carlo Intl Film Festival in Feb 23 2001
James D’Arcy: I thought it would go to someone who was Irish so when I got the part, I felt I had to be as good as I possibly could. I really did work myself up a bit over the accent. I had two weeks with a voice coach in Dublin and trying to get the accent right was probably more tiring than making the series.
(immersing in Irish history): It was deeply engrossing and I couldn’t stop reading.
This is a love story, and politics are secondary or even tertiary. I just hope people watch it with an open mind.
Ronan Bennett: With the creation of the character Ernie Coyne, the piece came alive. Along the way you meet real historical figures - Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Eamon de Valera but they're almost incidental. Ernie allows us to move between factions, he illuminates different sides of the conflict.
Ronan Bennett: This is not a proselytising piece. I'm not trying to educate or persuade anyone. If it clarifies issues or provokes discussion of Irish history, that's up to individuals; all I cared about was writing a moving story. But, of course, it's written from a modern viewpoint, by a man who grew up in Northern Ireland during the troubles.
Beanpole-thin, with a pale, delicately handsome face, Mr. D'Arcy ably negotiates the tricky role of Ernie, who nearly trembles with bashful sensitivity one moment and exhibits a doughty resolve the next. When the time comes to kill, Ernie doesn't hesitate --- NY Times March 14 2003
James D'Arcy plays the central character, Ernie Coyne, a nice upper-class boy whose mother somewhat implausibly brings him a slice of chocolate cake to enjoy while he is defending the GPO. D'Arcy looks right for this sort of part, doe-eyed and green as grass.
Beautifully filmed with an exceptional cast and fine dialogue --- The Guardian
D'Arcy's portrayal of Coyne's evolution from wide-eyed innocent to hardened fighter stands out, particularly when paired with Baeza, who softens Ita's iron will with a playful sex appeal --- Melanie McFarland, Seattle Post-Intelligencer