Although Australians are half a world away from Ireland, that doesn’t stop them from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with aplomb, wearing green and toasting to their Irish ancestors — whether they actually have any Irish ancestors or not. If drinking until you black out isn’t your thing, or even if it is, park down in front of the TV and spend the evening watching the perfect films for the occasion. Order DVDs or Blu-Rays of these and other films early to enjoy them in time for the holiday.
“The Secret of Kells”
Based on an Irish legend and set in eighth century Ireland, “The Secret of the Kells” is an Academy Award–nominated 2009 animated film from an Irish, Belgian and French filmmaking team. Telling of a fantastical origin for a real-life Irish treasure, an illuminated manuscript called “The Book of Kells”, the film entertains children while delighting and wowing adults with its visual effects. A must for fans of Japan’s Studio Ghibli releases, this movie is spectacle with substance, an imaginative and harrowing tale of a young monk taught how to paint living pictures into a sacred book.
“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”
A 2006 British-Irish film set during the Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” gets its name from a traditional Irish ballad. Starring Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney, this film is a harrowing look at what the Irish people endured in an era of persecution, underground resistance and acts of war. Focusing on two brothers pulled into opposite sides of a war because they disagree on how best to achieve peace, this film is a heady but compelling drama, ideal for fans of period dramas, war movies and history.
If horror comedy is more what you’re in the mood for on a jovial St. Patrick’s Day evening, watch 1993’s “Leprechaun” for a laugh and a scare. The first in a series of horror comedy films that became progressively cheesier, the first “Leprechaun” is the scariest of the franchise.
Starring Warwick Davis as the eponymous leprechaun and Jennifer Aniston as the teenage lead, the film follows Tory Redding, who rents a farmhouse in rural America with her dad for the summer. She and her friends discover a trapped leprechaun in the basement, a murderous magical creature the farmhouse’s previous owner brought home from Ireland in the hopes of winning a pot of gold. Once they free him, there’s no escape from his vengeance, even if no one else believes he exists.
Irish ancestry is shared by 1.9 million Australians, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports, making it the second largest foreign genealogy in the country, after English. Celebrate Irish culture by doing something a little special to recognize the holiday, even if it’s spending a couple of hours in an Irish film or a film with a St. Patrick’s Day theme.
“Leprechaun” image by jseattle from Flickr’s Creative Commons
“The Wind That Shakes the Barley” image by K from Flickr’s Creative Commons