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Jim Sheridan's Academy Award-nominated film "The Boxer" depicts the degradation and disunity of Northern Ireland's Catholic and Protestant communities through the hands of the terrorist organisation, the Irish Republican Army.

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Introduction

Jim Sheridan's Academy Award-nominated film "The Boxer" depicts the degradation and disunity of Northern Ireland's Catholic and Protestant communities through the hands of the terrorist organisation, the Irish Republican Army. The film, set in the early 1990s, follows the intensification of terrorism as a political instrument through the abuse of power within the Irish Republican Army organisation, resulting in the formation of radical extremist groups. Further complicating the political and social circumstances is the permanent presence of occupational British 'peacekeeping' forces, which Sheridan constructs as a catalyst for further violence within the Irish community. The violence and terror culminate in the signing of a ceasefire by the Irish Republican Army, causing an outcry from the provisional militant groups and resulting in widespread bombings and further bloodshed. Through his construction of the discourses of a divided Ireland, terrorism and forbidden love, director Jim Sheridan has positioned the viewer to perceive violence and terrorism as social negatives, with the end result being that the viewer ultimately acknowledges the significant human cost of terrorism. The basis for Sheridan's construction of terrorism as a social negative stems from his interpretation of 20th century Ireland as a divided nation. This disunity takes many different forms, from the most obvious division between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants to more obscure, but no less relevant partitions between the Irish and the British, and perhaps most importantly, the division within families caused as a result of terrorist acts. ...read more.

Middle

Harry's exploits in perpetuating terrorism incites the British to halt peace negotiations with Joe, privileging the extent to which the abuse of power contributes to the social situation in Northern Ireland. The viewer is given an insight into the horrors of terrorism through Sheridan's skilful use of the power of the camera lens, which plays an important role in communicating to the viewer that violence doesn't solve anything, yet is advocated by people with overpassionate ideals. The film is full of bleak, austere colours, which serves to express the oppression and fear that the people of Northern Ireland live under as a result of terrorism. In contrast, Sheridan's depiction of the numerous car bombings within the film present a well-employed use of special effects, and his use of camera panning across these scenes of destruction privileges the almost-apocalyptic nature of such attacks, positioning the viewer to accept the dominant position that terrorism is a social negative, and enlisting the sympathy of the audience. Furthermore, Sheridan's graphic depictions of the effect terrorism has on humans discourages viewers from accepting the negotiated reading that terrorism is a valid means to achieving a political goal for those who have been denied a position of power. Jim Sheridan's use of powerful dialogue and moving imagery have combined to stress the dominant position that terrorism is a manifestation of the corruption of power existinh in Northern Ireland as a social negative. ...read more.

Conclusion

This graphic statement is juxtaposed against the discourse of forbidden love to privilege the extent to which terrorism is constructed as a social negative. "The Boxer", in its exploration of the discourses of a divided Ireland, terrorism and forbidden love, is a masterful insight into the horrors of 20th century Ireland, and into the consequences of the corruption of power on such a grand scale. Through his selection of discourses and use of film techniques such as camera angles and sound effects, Sheridan invites the viewer to accept the dominant position that terrorism is a social negative, existing solely as a function of desperation for those who have endured years of being disenfranchised. In addition to this, Sheridan makes light of the horrific nature and sheer brutality of terrorism itself, by making a connection between the discourses of terrorism and its human impact. Unlike many of today's films, Sheridan truly encourages the viewer to contemplate the concept of terrorism from a human perspective, rather than the overly clinical fashion which has today become commonplace. By analysing the relationship between Danny and Maggie in the context of a divided nation overrun with terrorism, Sheridan has transformed the archetypal discourse of forbidden love, and revolutionised public perception and awareness of the human impact of terrorism. ...read more.

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