The trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Belfast has been unveiled today by Universal Pictures Ireland amid mounting excitement for the film’s release.
he mainly black and white teaser was accompanied by the poster art for the movie along with the announcement that Belfast will be shown in cinemas across Ireland from November 12.
The film stars Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench, Caitriona Balfe, Ciaran Hinds and local newcomer, 10-year-old Jude Hill, and has been written and directed by Branagh as a cinematic tribute to the city in which he was born and where he spent his early years. The young Branagh moved with his family to England to get away from the Troubles, but he still considers the city as home.
The film, Branagh’s most personal to date, is described as a ‘poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s’.
Dornan and Balfe play a passionate, working-class couple caught up in the mayhem, with Dench and Hinds as sharp-witted grandparents. Hill, from Gilford in Co Down, plays nine-year-old Buddy, who is based on Branagh himself.
The Focus Features movie is mostly shot in black and white but opens with coloured views of Belfast landmarks including the twin shipyard cranes Samson and Goliath, the former Harland and Wolff headquarters, an aerial view of a street of terraced houses and a mural. Dench narrates the opening, saying: “We all have a story to tell. But what makes each one different is not how the story ends but rather the place where it begins.”
With Love Affair’s late 1960s track Everlasting Love playing in the background, viewers are introduced to Buddy and his family, when he is called in from the street by his mum (Balfe). We then hear Buddy chatting to his grandfather (Hinds). He says: “My ma says if we went across the water, they wouldn’t understand the way I would talk.” Hind’s character replies: “If they’re don’t understand, then they’re not listening. You know who you are, don’t you? You’re Buddy from Belfast, where everybody knows you.”
The trailer takes a sinister turn when Buddy’s dad (Dornan) is approached by a man (Colin Morgan) and warned: “We’re looking to cleanse the community a wee bit. You wouldn’t want to be the odd man out.” Dornan’s character responds: “Touch my family and I’ll kill you.”
As rioting breaks out in the streets, Buddy asks his dad if the family is going to have to leave Belfast. Scenes of violence and the arrival of the British army are interspersed with happier shots of family life. Dornan’s character attempts to convince his wife it would be safer to leave, telling her that they’re living in a civil war. As Buddy listens from his hiding place on the stairs, he overhears his father say: “Kids the same age as ours are being killed. We can give these boys a better chance than we ever had.”
The scenes are accompanied by the straplines: “No matter how far you go, you never forget where you came from.” Dench’s character tells her family: “Go now and don’t look back.”
The trailer ends with a wide-eyed Buddy in the cinema before Dornan’s voice is heard shouting: “Hello Belfast!” and Balfe’s voice fades out with: “Top of the world”, as a camera pans across the city from the top of Cavehill.
In an interview with Vanity Fair this week, Branagh told how cinema had been a huge distraction for him as a child.
“The cinema, for me, was one place where the screen engulfed you so totally that you could, for those moments, forget. You could feel safe, away from the mayhem,” he said.
“It felt like the movies, and that experience of big-screen movies, they gave me a new home — in fact, the home that I’ve been living in for a large part of my adult life. When I started to write this movie, it felt like it’s about time to go back to my real home.”
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