The Quiet Man (1952) - John Ford

John Ford's The Quiet Man was not well-received in Ireland.  William C. Dowling lists objections the Irish made of the film, which accused it of romanticizing the country where Ford's (born Feeney) parents were born.

And, there's little question that the film is clearly Ireland as seen from across the Atlantic.  The Irish were perhaps right to be offended by Ford's portrayal of the country as pastoral, backwards and fitting most every stereotype the English had invented.

But every diaspora sees its homeland is a rosier, more romantic light than the current, "on-the-ground" members of the ethnicity do.  Watch a film about England made by an Anglo-American.  Or shall we talk about Braveheart?  American "plastic paddys" have made St. Patrick's Day into a multi-cultural event, and I wager I've been to more Mexican-American Cinco de Mayo parties fiestas than most people living in Mexico have.

The Irish government is reaching out to its diaspora, now offering a "Certificate of Irish Heritage."  (for a fee, of course)


This is where critics of The Quiet Man overlook the obvious.  It's not a Irish story - it's an Irish American story.

The United States is in a period of "re-inventing" ethnicity, whether Irish, English, Welsh, West African, African, Hispanic, Native American or others.  After centuries where either ethnicity or assimilation were forced on people of different groups, we're entering a more relaxed period of ethnic origins.  (aside from continued forced-ethnicity on Hispanic and Arab Americans)

It seems similar to the "Celtic Revival" in Britain and Ireland a century ago.  Out of the melting pot of Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Normanism, the British and Irish reached back into its heritage and brought forward old traditions, doing their best to scrub the movement of racist nastiness.

The Quiet Man is #148 on the 2011 edition of the TSPDT 1,000 list I’m blogging through.  I’ve now seen 417.

Joseph Freckleton and Maria Spence, two of my Irish ancestors.