Belfast (2021), written and directed by Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh, is a semi-autobiographical story of love, joy, and grief seen through the eyes of one child in the late 1960s, a time of social unrest in Northern Ireland. The movie was shot in black and white, which gives it more authenticity and gives it a more realistic feel.
The characters in this semi-autobiographical historical drama include 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), his parents Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe, his older brother Lewis McAskie, and grandparents Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench.
Buddy is the youngest member of a Protestant family. His main concerns are football, going to the movies, fighting imaginary dragons, and getting a better math grade so he can sit closer to the girl he fancies in class.
Buddy’s loving bond with his grandparents forms the foundation of the story. Their lives change drastically on August 15, 1969, when their peaceful Belfast neighbourhood becomes violent as tension prevails between Protestants and Catholics.
Buddy’s family is faced with the sad possibility of having to leave the place they grew up in due to the rising violence.
Belfast is not a story that is too serious. Surprisingly, there is also a lot of humour throughout which helps to provide some fun to the otherwise tragic events that are taking place. All this is shown through the eyes of Jude.
With excellent acting, creative directing, and effective use of Van Morrison music, this is a fascinating film. To present the story and be realistic, the writer and director had a strong understanding of what they were doing. The film gives both comforts and takes you on an emotional ride as well. We will be able to empathise with Buddy’s journey because of Branagh’s inspiration from his own childhood experiences.
Belfast is a brilliant and well-acted film that explores the decisions families have to make following tragedy and disruption. It is not a surprise that the film won Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2022.