Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Boorman|
|Produced by||John Boorman|
|Screenplay by||John Boorman|
|Based on||The General|
by Paul Williams
|Music by||Richie Buckley|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Box office||$1.2 million (US)|
The General is an Irish crime film written and directed by John Boorman about Dublin crime boss Martin Cahill, who pulled off several daring heists in the early 1980s and attracted the attention of the Garda Síochána, IRA, and Ulster Volunteer Force. The film was shot in 1997 and released in 1998. Brendan Gleeson plays Cahill, Adrian Dunbar plays his friend Noel Curley, and Jon Voight plays Inspector Ned Kenny.
The story of Dubliner Martin Cahill, who pulled off two daring robberies but came into conflict with members of his gang and attracted attention from the police and the IRA and whose dealings with the UVF ultimately led to his downfall.
Director Boorman was himself one of Cahill's burglary victims. This event is dramatized in a scene in which Cahill breaks into a home, stealing a gold record and pilfering a watch from the wrist of a sleeping woman. The gold record, which Cahill later breaks in disgust after discovering it is not made of gold, was awarded for the score of Deliverance, Boorman's best-known film.
Filming was at various locations around Dublin, including South Lotts and Ranelagh. Though shot in color, the theatrical release of the film was presented in black-and-white for artistic reasons, while an alternate version of the desaturated original color print was subsequently made available for television broadcast and home video. Asked why he chose to depict Cahill's life in black-and-white, Boorman later explained:
I love black-and-white, and since I was making the film independently -- I borrowed the money from the bank -- there was no one to tell me I couldn't. If I had made [The General] for a studio, they wouldn't let me do that. The other reason, the main reason, was because it was about recent events and people who were still alive. I wanted to give it a little distance. Black-and-white gives you that sort of parallel world. Also, it's very close to the condition of dreaming, to the unconscious. I wanted it to have this mythic level because I felt this character was an archetype. All throughout history, you find this rebel, this violent, funny, brilliant kind of character. I wanted to make that kind of connection, and black-and-white film helps. Up until the middle to late '60s, it was a choice to film in black-and-white or color. But then television became so vital to a film's finance, and television won't show black-and-white. So that killed it off, really.