Life,  Reading

An Irish Farewell: How a Down Syndrome Actor Won an Oscar with a Touching Family Drama

  On March 12, 2023 local time in the United States, at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony held in Hollywood, Los Angeles, the British short film “An Irish Goodbye, 2022″ won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. It has previously won a British Academy Film Award.
  ”Irish Farewell” is only 23 minutes long, and it is a black humorous drama full of strong Irish local flavor. The story is pretty simple: Set on a farm in Northern Ireland called Glenmornan, it tells the story of a family reunited after the death of their mother (Michelle Fairlie). London-based older brother Tello (Seamus O’Hara) has long been estranged from his younger brother Loken (James Martin), who suffers from Down’s syndrome, but is brought together by the eccentric parish priest (Patty Jenkins). A new care arrangement for the mentally handicapped younger brother under the supervision of the younger brother. The elder brother was bent on selling the farm in his hometown and letting the younger brother move to live with their aunt Margaret; but the younger brother who was used to farm life obviously didn’t take this idea seriously, which added to the already painful reunion of the two brothers.
  After a simple funeral ceremony, the priest told the brothers that the coroner found a piece of paper in the mother’s jeans, which appeared to record some things their mother wanted to do when she was alive. At this moment, younger brother Loken realizes an opportunity: he insists that he and his brother fulfill every wish on his mother’s bucket list—100 wishes in total—before he agrees to leave the farm and go to his aunt’s house. Thus, the two brothers embarked on a wonderful journey to get closer to each other: they practiced Tai Chi together, because that was the first item on the mother’s wish list; the second wish of the mother was to read a literary classic… the eighth Number 1 is being a model in a sketching class… Number 17 is riding a hot air balloon… Number 99 is skydiving! The 100 wishes are about to come to an end, but at this time the younger brother Loken still wants to keep his mother’s farm, and the older brother still wants to return to his original life and does not want to be dragged down by his younger brother. So the two brothers quarreled fiercely in front of their mother’s ashes. When the priest came to pick up his younger brother the next day, the older brother unexpectedly learned that the priest had not given his younger brother the suicide note left by his mother! The elder brother suddenly realized that those outlandish wishes were made up by the younger brother in order to keep him. At that moment, the elder brother finally understood the younger brother, and he insisted on fulfilling the 100th wish of “mother” with his younger brother: to go to outer space.
  At night, the two brothers lit up fireworks… The younger brother wrote down the 101st wish of “mother”: “My last wish is that my two children Trol and Loken become good friends again. I hope Trol I can move back to Ireland, because the British are not humorous at all, I hope he can live on the farm with Loken, and it would be even better if he can learn how to cook again!”——Maybe this is really my mother’s greatest wish!
  The suicide note left by the “mother” in the short film is actually the most sincere confession of family affection. The wish list written down by the younger brother is eloquent, enough for him and his elder brother to restore the alienated relationship. The love between mother and child and brotherhood makes all the bad things become beautiful. The short film is full of humorous elements and at the same time with a touch of sadness, which appropriately expresses the blood-linked family relationship between the two brothers.

  The day of the Oscars ceremony happened to be the 31st birthday of James Martin, the actor who plays the younger brother in the film and also suffers from Down syndrome. When he delivered his acceptance speech, the audience sang birthday for him in unison. happy song. Martin said: “I am the first person with Down syndrome to win not only a BAFTA, but also an Oscar; what is even more surprising is that the Oscar was won on my birthday again, which is really great Already!” Martin commented on the characters in the play like this: “The younger brother Loken is very independent, but his love and hatred for his elder brother is very wonderful. If it weren’t for the special relationship between the two brothers, Loken would only regard Tello as a caregiver ”
  The two directors and screenwriters of the film, Tom Berkley and Rose White, said: “We all thought that this pair of brothers would be very interesting characters because they are so different. The brother Tello is stoic and slightly cynical. , makes people feel somewhat depressed; while the younger brother Loken has empathy beyond ordinary people. It is touching to explore the sad experiences of these characters together. The two brothers have differences in Loken’s future arrangements, and And they’re navigating their differences while also enduring the grief of a loved one’s loss. It’s something that got us thinking about how people deal with grief differently.”
  Regarding the title “Irish Goodbye”, Irish Goodbye/Ghosting is often used in English to refer to the act of leaving a social occasion without saying goodbye to anyone, which is what we call “farewell without saying goodbye” — Last Second People Still in a bar, at a family reunion, or at the table at a wedding, the next second it’s gone without a trace. As for the origin of the phrase “Irish farewell”, there is still no accurate conclusion. One of them is that it originated from the great famine caused by the potato plague that broke out in Irish history from 1845 to 1852. During the Great Famine, Ireland was under the rule of the British government, but the British government provided little help to it, and many people ended up starving to death. During the seven years of the Great Famine, the population of Ireland under British rule dropped by nearly a quarter. The natural disaster and various social and economic reasons have seriously affected the livelihood of poor farmers, and also had an extremely profound impact on Ireland’s society, culture and population. In addition to those who died of starvation and disease, about 1 million people emigrated overseas due to the famine. In order to survive, many Irish people had to leave their hometowns and flee to the United States in groups to make a living. However, the distance between the two countries and the limited technological means at that time meant that once you went to the United States, you would leave forever, and you would never have the opportunity to contact your relatives and friends back home. At that time, the farewell was sudden and decisive, which is said to be the origin of the expression “Irish farewell”.
  Going back to this short film, “Irish Farewell” is actually deconstructing comedy. Rather than saying that it shows “Irish farewell”, it is better to say that it is actually more like “Irish reunion”. Although the plot of the film is unavoidably clichéd, the bittersweet story and its profound connotation can make us remember for a long time. Modern people are often lazy or even afraid of socializing, but a certain interaction with others may be a rare opportunity in your life to find and obtain love.
  When talking about the creative inspiration of “Irish Farewell”, Tom Berkley said:
  Ross and I have worked together for a long time, and we both live in London. Then we decided to go back to our respective hometowns, Ross’s hometown is Belfast, Ireland, and my hometown is the west of England, so that we can focus more on film creation. In those days, leaving home, coming home, and returning home became the themes of our lives.
  One day, my father and I were at a football game, and I happened to notice a pair of grown brothers sitting a few rows in front of us, who later became the inspiration for the short film’s protagonists. The relationship between the brothers seems tense and they have been arguing, but since the elder brother has to take care of the younger brother with Down syndrome, it is obvious from him that he has an extra sense of responsibility. While the relationship was really poignant, I found the way they got along so interesting that I told Ross the story the next day.
  I think siblings have a unique relationship where they can treat each other differently than any other relationship. As brothers, the relationship between Loken and Tello was inspired by the relationship between me and my brother, how two characters from the same family became so different and estranged, and what it takes to bring them back together. This is an interesting topic. As you get older, you realize that even though you are from the same place, you are all separate individuals. That’s why we put so many “childish” elements into the short, like fart jokes, and it’s these very early, almost childlike impulses that allow the siblings to reconnect. These are special memories, and you can go back in time with that person with whom you have unique memories.

  The filming and presentation of “The Irish Farewell” is concise and clear. The film does not have too much foreshadowing or complicated shots, and the pictures are real and close to the characters, making the audience feel very cordial, as if they were on the scene. The director went straight to the theme, and in just over 20 minutes, he vividly showed the complex emotions between the characters. The extreme delicacy and warmth presented in the film are particularly touching. The deep emotional thread of the story allows the audience to fully appreciate the preciousness and impermanence of life, as well as the most sincere friendship between people. “Irish Farewell” starts with a bizarre and absurd bucket list and ends with a happy happy ending. The whole narrative process is full of unique Irish humor, poisonous tongue and warmth. The protagonist’s strong and slightly garlicky Irish accent makes the audience endlessly aftertaste .
  It was the potato famine more than 200 years ago that started the tradition of Irish emigration. There are fewer and fewer Irish people staying in their homeland, and people of insight either emigrate to England or go to the United States, just like the eldest son Tello in “Irish Farewell” who chooses to go away. Objectively speaking, although this period of history has caused Ireland’s economy and culture to slump, the outstanding achievements of Irish descendants all over the world have also made this small island world-famous. This year’s Oscars has three excellent works related to Ireland: “The Banshee of Inisherin”, which won 9 nominations, “The Quiet Girl”, which was nominated for Best International Film and won Best Live Action Short Film Award-winning “Irish Farewell.” It can be said that together they prove to the world the amazing cultural influence of this small island nation of Ireland.

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