22 April 2001 | rockallnight
Too much plot, but excellent characterizations.
One of three early Ardmore Studios comedy/drama productions combining Dublin's Abbey Theater players with one or more international stars. The other two are "Sally's Irish Rogue" and "Broth Of A Boy"
Based on a successful 1950's Abbey Theater play, Patrick Kirwan's screenplay lightens the anti-clerical and anti-Nationalist tone of the original.
Brief Synopsis: Ireland, late 1950s. The erection of a statue in a small provincial town to patriot martyr Jack Carberry creates two problems: it focuses anti-British sentiment at a time when a wealthy Englishman wants to settle in the area, and causes a moral dilemma for a local high-minded young ward who learns (somewhat belatedly) that he is Carberry's illegitimate son.
The main plot of "This Other Eden" has some similarities to "The Quiet Man" - a wealthy outsider wants to settle in Ireland, falls in love with a native girl and arouses a variety of local feeling ranging from support to open hostility. The hostility, of course, is political; but some sympathy and much humor is generated by the Englishman's romantic vision of Ireland: he is willing to buy an Irish mansion because of the "Irishness" of its name, he has learned a few phrases in Gaelic (and uses them inappropriately) and much to the disconcertion of his adversaries, he admires the patriot Carberry and sympathizes with the nationalist viewpoint. In his romanticism he has much in common with those around him. The idealization of patriots - the commemorative statue, when unveiled, neatly reflects the distorted image the locals have of their hero - is only one of a plethora of themes within Patrick Kirwan's screenplay. Other themes include: the Irish antipathy towards the British, the commercial exploitation of Irish patriots, the Church's attitude towards them, conspiracies of silence - enough for several films, never mind a modest 80-minute feature! There is also too much plot; only the main plot is satisfactorily developed and resolved. Some of the sub-plots are too often hastily and unconvincingly tied up - especially the dispatching of a "bloodhound" press reporter with only a few threatening words.
However, there is much to enjoy: the story itself is continually interesting and upbeat; the characters are well-drawn and well-acted - especially Audrey Dalton as the independently-minded daughter of a wealthy local businessman. Leslie Phillips strikes a nice balance between blundering romanticism and resourceful practicality. Only Hilton Edward's snuff-taking Canon Moyle borders on caricature.
For anyone with an interest in Ireland "This Other Eden" is well worth seeing as a microcosm of that country just before attitudes began to change in the 1960s.
The Locations: the town square is in Chapelizod (near Dublin's Phoenix Park), the hotel is in Wicklow town (The Bayview) and Kilgarrig House is in the grounds of Ardmore Studios itself.