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Film Details

Production companyBAC Films Ltd
SponsorBórd Scánnán na hEireann/Irish Film Board
Radio Telefís Éireann/RTE
Country of originIreland
DirectorHICKEY, Kieran
Script/AdaptationTREVOR, William
PhotographyCORCORAN, Sean
Sound recordingHORGAN, Kieran
EditingDUFFNER, J. Patrick
Production designLUCAS, John
Costume designBOYLE, Consolata
Associate producerKENNEDY, Douglas
Music performanceBYRNE, Linda (Piano)
Cast(Attracta), Kate Thompson (Attracta at 15 and at 26 years), Joe McPartland (Mr Purce), John Kavanagh (Mr Devereux), Kate Flynn (Aunt Emmeline), Cathleen Delany (Sarah Crookham), Deirdre Donnelly (Geraldine Carey), Christopher Casson (Mr Jameson), Emma McGrane (Attracta at 11 years), Aiden Grennell (Archdeacon Flower), Seamus Forde (Mr Ayrie), Jane Brennan (Penelope Vade), Martina Stanley (Maisie), Alan Stanford (Doctor Friendman), Rachel Burrows (Miss Acheson), Helen Robinson (Mrs Bamford), Ruth Durley (Mrs Marsh-Hall), Eve Watkinson (Lady Paste), Aisling Flitton (Barbara), Isobel Mahon (Susan).
Release date1983
SummaryIn England, an elderly woman, Attracta, grieves at the grave of Penelope Vane until the keeper and a policeman come to take her away at nightfall. In the retirement home, Hazelmere, where she lives, Dr Friendman tries to encourage Attracta to tell how she came to be at the home. Later in a reverie Attracta tells another resident, Sarah Crookham, how the dead woman, Penelope Vane, wife of an English officer in Northern Ireland, received the head of her husband in a biscuit box from terrorists. Mrs Vane lived in Hazelmere with her parents, and after the death of her husband she went to Belfast to preach peace. Attracta recalls her career as a teacher since 1937. She tells in flash back her childhood in a small County Cork town, fifty two miles from Cork City, where she lived with her Aunt Emmeline and her maid, Philomena, as her parents died when she was three years old, around 1921, eight years earlier. Attracta eavesdrops on Archdeacon Flower, who reassures Emmeline about Devereux, who is kind to Attracta and gives her gifts. Emmeline though is wary of Geraldine Carey, Devereux's housekeeper, and complains that Devereux does not attend church services. As a fifteen-year-old Attracta tells her teacher, Mr Carey, that she would like to be a teacher, and he tells her that she could be his successor. Mr Purse, a courthouse clerk, encounters her on the street and follows her. Purse, a bigoted Protestant, takes her to a farm-yard building where he frightens her and enquires whether Penelope, a Catholic, is trying to convert her. He then enquires whether she knows what happened to her parents. He tells her that they were killed by the IRA in an ambush intended for the Black and Tans. Devereux, he tells her, was ultimately responsible for their death. Attracta asks her aunt to tell her about her parents. Emmeline tells her that Geraldine Carey's husband left her as she and Devereux were lovers. Attracta tries to recall the ambush that killed her parents, while continuing to see Devereux. Purse arrives at the house and verbally abuses Devereux and Penelope but Devereux dismisses him as an Orange Mason. As a twenty-six-year-old, Attracta is the school teacher in the Protestant primary school where she was a pupil. In 1942 Willie Hanna proposed to her, but she could not envisage such a marriage. Her children, she recalls, were the school children. She tells Sarah that she was happy until old age and when she read about Penelope Vade. Then she tells her class how her parents were killed, and how the killers became her friends. Another news item is read out in which Penelope Vane's suicide is reported. She had been visited by five terrorists/paramilitaries wearing balaclavas who raped her five times. Distressed, she dragged herself across the room and took a bottle of aspirin to commit suicide. Her death was because of her declared intention to work with the women's peace movement. As Attracta is watching an explosion in Northern Ireland on television. Rev Mr Jameson arrives to enquire about her retirement. He reveals that the real reason for his visit is that there had been objections to her accnt. to her pupils of the killing of Vane, of the assault on his wife and of her suicide. Attracta tells him that monsters may not remain monsters for ever. She tells him that she had failed in her career as she hadn't told before of her own past and of her forgiveness of her parents' killers. At the retirement home, Attracta appears to take on the persona of Penelope Vade, whom she continues to mourn. (V).
Production creditsp.c: B.A.C. Films Ltd. For Bord Scannan na hEireann/Irish Film Board and Radio Telefís Éireann, p.m: Mary Alleguen, assoc. p: Douglas Kennedy, d: Kieran Hickey, sc: William Trevor from his own short story 'Attracta' (publ. in William Trevor The Distant Past and Other Stories Dublin: Poolbeg Press, 1979), light, c: Sean Corcoran, p.dsgn.: John Lucas, ed: J Patrick Duffner, 1st a.d: David Murphy, 2nd a.d: Mick Rowland, make-up: Toni Delany, hair: Joanna Lennox, cost: Consolata Boyle, ward: Janet O'Leary, s: Kieran Horgan, dub. mix: Pat Hayes, piano: Lynda Byrne, cartoon: Aidan Hickey, accnt: John Moore, cont: Laerke Pederson, prop.buyer: Sunny Mulligan, props: Cos Egan, Nuala McKeman, focus puller: Des Whelan, grip: John Murphy, clapper loader: Aidan McGuinness, gaffer: Louis Conroy, elec: Martin Holland, Jim Farrell, p. secretary: Jennie Charter, cnstr: Tommy Bassett, Bobby Scott, boom op.: Raymond Cross, stills: Brian Devon.
LightingCORCORAN, Sean
Genre/CategoryPeriod Drama
Historical Drama
Feature Film Drama
Old Age
irish History
Black and Tans
War of Independence

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