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Film Details

Production companyLawson Productions
Vista Organisation
Country of originGreat Britain
ProducerLAWSON, Sarah
DirectorKNIGHTS, Robert
Script/AdaptationWILLIAMS, Moira
PhotographyBIDDLE, Adrian
O'DELL, Shaun
Sound recordingSHARROCK, Ivan
EditingLEMON, Max
Art directionCHAMLEY, Diane
Production designPORTER, Mike
Costume designHOLDICH, Charlotte
Executive producerBENSON, Graham
Associate producerGEATER, Sarah
Music composerMAY, Simon
CastAnthony Hopkins (Major Angus Barry, 'Cassius'), Jean Simmons (Aunt Mary), Trevor Howard (grandfather/General Dwyer), Rebecca Pidgeon (Nancy Gulliver), Hugh Grant (Harry), Ronnie Masterson (Bridie), Tara MacGowran (Maeve), John Rogan (Mr Carroll), Joan O'Hara (Maurya), Charmian May (Celia Brabazon), Ann Way (George Brabazon), Mark O'Regan (Joe Mulhare), Brendan Laird (Tommy Roche), Adrian Dunbar (Captain Rankin), Geoffrey Greenhill (Corporal Tweedie).
Release date1988
SummaryIn Southern Ireland in summer 1920, Nancy Gulliver, an eighteen-year- old orphan, lives in a Georgian house by the sea with her once-wealthy Aunt Mary and her grandfather, a retired general who fought in the Crimean War and is now confined to a wheelchair. She is due to go to Trinity College, Dublin in the autumn to study history. She is infatuated with Harry, a stockbroker, but he uses her to become attached to Maeve, a neighbour who is older than Nancy. She finds a stranger hiding in her secret hut on the beach. She goes to see J M Synge's Riders to the Sea at the Abbey Theatre with Harry and Maeve. On their way home they are stopped at a British army checkpoint, a reminder of the War of Independence. She hopes the man in her hut may be her missing father and begins to visit him often but she is shocked one day when he produces a gun. He tells her that he fought for four years in World War One, but that his war is not over yet. She says that she will have to tell someone, but after considering going to the police she remains silent about him. She agrees to take a message to Dublin for the stranger, whom she names Cassius, and she forms a friendship with her contact, Joe Mulhare. It is only when she witnesses the shooting of twelve British officers in the company of family friends, the Barbazons, at Leopardstown races on the following day does she realise the extent of her involvement in the military events. She had seen Joe act suspiciously prior to the shooting and comes to realise that Cassius is also in the IRA. At dinner, servant Bridie declares that it is twelve less to torture 'our boys'. Nancy agrees with Bridie, who then reprimands her for being cheeky to her aunt. Despite her horror at her complicity, she nevertheless keeps her loyalty to Cassius. She remains silent when Captain Rankin shows her a photograph of Cassius dressed in a British officer's uniform. After Rankin has left. Aunt Mary identifies Cassius as Major Angus Barry, who had once lived nearby on the huge family estate. That night Nancy runs to warn Major Barry of an impending search, hoping that he will already have left the hut. Barry, however, has waited to see that she is safe. A patrol is waiting to ambush Barry on the beach. After raising his arms to surrender and throwing away his gun, Barry is shot by the soldiers. Rankin walks over to him and puts another bullet in him. The next day. Harry and Maeve announce their engagement, but by now Nancy is disinterested in Harry. She returns to the hut and to the spot where Barry was shot. (V).
NoteIR Rel 9/10/1988 (Cork Film Festival), ca. 18/11/1988 (Dublin). Note: Filmed on location in the Republic of Ireland. This film won the Jury Award at the 1988 Montreal Film Festival.
ReferenceIP 18/11/1988:20; IT 18/11/1988:14; MFB 1988:329; SI 20/11/1988:17;
ST 20/11/1988:18.

Irish Times, 18/11/88:14, journalist‘Marvellous work from Maggie’, short favourable review of The Dawning showing in Dublin (Nicholas O'Neill).

Sunday Tribune, 20/11/88, ‘Making much of little’, review of The Dawning
(Ciaran Carty).

The Observer, 23/10/88, review of The Dawning (Philip French).

The Guardian, 20/10/88, review (Derek Malcolm).
DistributorEnterprise Pictures (GB)
Production creditsp.c: Lawson Productions, pres: TVS and The Vista Organisation, p: Sarah Lawson, co-p: Moira Williams, exec. p: Graham Benson, exec. in charge of production: Dickie Bamber, assoc. p: Sara Geater, d: Robert Knights, sc: Williams from the novel The Old Jest by Jennifer Johnston (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1979), sc. super: Angela Noakes, dop: Adrian Biddle, c. op: Shaun O'Dell, focus puller: Martin Kenzie, clapper loader: Terry Nightingall, grip: John Flemming, art d: Diane Chamley, ed: Max Lemon, 1st a.d: Andrew Montgomery, 2nd a.d: Kieron Phipps, 3rd a.d: Peter Freeman, p.dsgn.: Mike Porter, m: Simon May, s: Ivan Sharrock, s. ed: Graham Harris, dub. mix: Rupert Scrivener, a. dub. ed: Jeremy Child, boom op.: Don Banks, 1st a. ed: Graham Farrow, cost: Charlotte Holdich, a. cost: Gilly Martin, a. ward: Claire Smith, chief make-up: Tommie Manderson, make-up: Magdalen Gaffney, chief hair: Stephen Rose, hair: Carole Bennett, props, master: George Ball, p. buyer: Ronnie Skinner, art dept. a: Pam Roch-Perks, gaffer: Kevin Day, best boy: Pete Goddard, loc m: Grania 0'Shannon, Don Geraghty, p. co-ord: Susan Dreghom, sp. effs: Gerry Johnson, dressing props: Danny Hunter, Ken Perkins, m.p: Simon May Orchestra, Dave Hewson and Gerry Kitchingham, cast: Rebecca Howard, titles: General Screen Enterprises Ltd, stills: Tony Nutley, publicity: Brian Seeney, GB distr: Enterprise Pictures.
Genre/CategoryFeature Film Drama
Historical Drama
Literary Adaptation
KeywordsWorld War I
War of Independence

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