DVD Review: A Doctor’s Sword

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June Butler unsheathes the DVD of A Doctor’s Sword, Gary Lennon’s documentary  about Aidan MacCarthy, an Irish doctor, who, at 28, joined the RAF in London as the 2nd World war began.

 

Ensconced in MacCarthy’s bar in Castletownbere, Co. Cork, hangs a Samurai sword with still razor sharp edges and evidence of it being a working weapon. Such blades were far more than merely a form of defence – they were used as proof of filial devotion and a sign of dynastic honour – once holding great meaning for the person who previously possessed it. Carefully contained inside the worn handle, ashes of ancient warriors lie in state. The sword is accompanied with photographic evidence of its former owner – 2nd Lieutenant Isao Kusono. On the reverse side of the image is a profound declaration of true friendship between Lieutenant Kusono and Dr Aidan MacCarthy, a survivor of the Nagaski bombing and prisoner of war,interned in two separate Japanese camps during the Second World War.

The story of Dr Aidan MacCarthy related in great detail by director Gary Lennon is one that would have even the most hardened of cynics accepting of MacCarthy’s greatness. In this poignant tale, lies the narrative of a medical doctor who truly merited the Hippocratic Oath of ‘first do no harm’ despite the many injustices he himself received.

One of ten children, MacCarthy was born in 1914 to a middle class family and attended Clongowes Wood secondary school as a border. Upon leaving Clongowes, a medical career beckoned and MacCarthy went to UCC where he graduated as a doctor in 1938. Jobs in his home town of Castletownbere were scarce so MacCarthy and a number of his classmates mooted heading to London where they might fare better. War was on the horizon and MacCarthy decided to join the armed forces – his choices lay between the RAF or the Royal Navy – an obliging dance-hall hostess flipped a coin and MacCarthy duly signed up for the RAF. He later claimed all medical checks and paperwork were done with such haste that following his enlistment, MacCarthy arrived back in the local bar before they opened their doors at eleven o clock.

What unfolds in this remarkable story is something far more than miraculous – MacCarthy was marooned for three days and nights at Dunkirk – survived and went on to receive the George Cross for bravery when his direct intervention saved the crew of a crash-landed Spitfire. He was captured in the Japanese attack on Singapore and from there, spent three arduous years in a prisoner of war camp. First in Java, later in Nagasaki. Despite horrendous abuse and torture meted out to those captured by the Japanese, MacCarthy rose above his experiences to emerge a forgiving and empathetic figure having never lost his faith in humanity nor his ability to absolve the actions of others. Of even greater inspiration is the sword that takes pride of place among MacCarthy’s possessions and how it came to be located in a small bar in rural Ireland.

Lennon deals sensitively with the issues surrounding MacCarthy’s incarceration and follows his daughter, Nicola, as she journeys to Japan in search of the history behind the sword. It is clear that this topic is one of great interest to Lennon given that no stone is left unturned in the telling of a truly amazing story. Archive radio interviews with MacCarthy were unearthed in the course of making this film and it is heart-warming to hear his rural burr and kindly tones as his story is relayed without the slightest hint of rancour.

On being asked by the interviewer what he put down his survival to, MacCarthy deftly responded saying that it was “a combination of my Irish Catholic Heritage, my family background, and lots and lots of luck”.

 

  • Directors: Gary Lennon
  • Producers: Gary Lennon Bob Jackson
  • Format: DVD-Video
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Wildcard Distribution
  • Run Time: 70.00 minutes

 

A Doctor’s Sword can be purchased on DVD in stores including Golden Discs and Tower Records, the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork and the Irish Film Institute in Dublin, MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere and also online on Amazon and the Wildcard Distribution website.

 

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Competition: Win ‘A Doctor’s Sword’ on DVD

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The feature documentary A Doctor’s Sword is available to purchase on DVD in stores and online from today, Friday 20th November.

The film is the almost unbelievable tale of a young man from Cork who trained in UCC (Dr Aidan MacCarthy) and survived some of the most harrowing episodes of World War II (including the atomic bombing of Nagasaki), and his family’s search to uncover the origin of the Japanese Samurai sword which he brought home, and which now resides in MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere.

Dr Aidan MacCarthy stands as one of the most incredible survivors of World War II. He survived Dunkirk and was later captured by the Japanese in Java, he spent almost four years as a prisoner of war and was less than a mile from the epicentre of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

He was the first non-Japanese doctor to assist civilians in the aftermath of the atomic bomb and when Japan surrendered Aidan was given a Samurai sword by the camp commandant – be the reason was shrouded in mystery for almost 70 years. Aidan’s daughter Nicola travels to Japan in an attempt to discover the origin of the ancestral sword. On her journey Nicola discovers much more about her father’s incredible story and about the war from both the Allied and Japanese sides. Recreated through animation, interviews and archive with a full orchestral score, this is a story of forgiveness and humanity at its highest level.

Thanks to our friends at Wildcard Distribution we have a copy of the DVD.

To win yourself a copy of the DVD answer the following question:

Who directed A Doctor’s Sword?

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com before Monday, 30th November when the Film Ireland hat will unleash its katana and select a winner.

A Doctor’s Sword can be purchased on DVD in stores including Golden Discs and Tower Records, the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork and the Irish Film Institute in Dublin, MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere and also online on Amazon and the Wildcard Distribution website.

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Competition: Win ‘Get Up & Go’ on DVD

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Get Up & Go starring Love/Hate’s Peter Coonan and Killian Scott is now available to purchase on DVD in stores throughout Ireland including Golden Discs, Tower Records and the Irish Film Institute as well as online on Amazon and the Wildcard Distribution website today, Friday 13th November.  It is also currently available for download across a range of digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google and Wuaki.

Written and directed by Brendan Grant, Get Up & Go sees the Love/Hate duo reunite for a slacker comedy which chronicles a hectic 24 hours in the life of would-be comedian Coilin (Scott) and frustrated musician Alex (Coonan).

When Alex’s girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant, he refuses to allow her to derail his long-held plan to escape to London. Meanwhile the hapless Coilin is striking out on stage and off, as he attempts to get his faltering comedy career off the ground and win the heart of his dream girl. With time ticking down to Alex’s departure, the mismatched pair will be forced to confront the reality of their childhood dreams of artistic greatness while their lifelong friendship is tested to the limit.

Along with Coonan and Scott Get Up & Go stars Gemma-Leah Devereux (Stitches, Dartmoor Killing), Sara Lloyd-Gregory (Doctors), Emma Eliza-Regan (Love Eternal, Darkness on the Edge of Town) and Sarah McCall (Wide Open Spaces).

Set against a backdrop of famous Dublin locations, pubs, and clubs, Get Up & Go shows a youthful and vibrant side of the city, a world of schemers and dreamers, struggling artists and musicians, all striving to make it in post-boom Ireland.

With a soundtrack that features some of Ireland’s foremost musicians including Adrian Crowley, The Villagers, and Jape, and cameos from many of the leading lights of Dublin’s alternative scene (David Kitt, Mik Pyro) Get Up & Go gives on-screen expression to the hotbed of musical talent that exists in the capital.

Thanks to the good people at Wildcard Distribution we have a copy of the DVD to give away. To be in with a chance of winning answer the following question:

Who does Peter Coonan play in Love/Hate?

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com before 5pm Monday, 23rd November when the Film Ireland Hat won’t really feel like doing anything but will pick a winner.

Get Up & Go is available on DVD in stores and online and for download on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Wuaki.

 

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Competition: Win ‘Noble’ on DVD

Stephen Bradley’s award-winning Noble is available on DVD in Ireland from Friday, 6th November 2015. Winner of 2015 IFTA Best Actress category, Deirdre O’Kane takes the lead in the extraordinary and inspirational true story of one woman’s dream that changed a million lives.

Vietnam. 1989.  Fourteen years after the end of the war.
When the funny, feisty and courageous Irish-woman, Christina Noble, flies into Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) she leaves behind an extraordinary life story.  But the best is yet to come. Christina lands in a country “that she wouldn’t be able to show you on a map”. With a few dollars, a dream and her own hard-won abilities, she is about to change everything, for hundreds of thousands of people. Shifting between past and present, the film concentrates on Christina’s strength of character, as she uses music and humour to pursue a seemingly impossible dream, always following her motto that “a little insane goes a long way.”

Noble is the inspirational true story of a woman who believes that it only takes one person to make a difference.  And of how she is proved right.

Thanks to the fine folk at Eclipse Pictures, we have 5 copies of Noble to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question:

What was the title of Stephen Bradley’s 1998 debut film?

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com before Monday, 16th November when the Film Ireland Hat will return to 1950s Dublin and select winners. Please include a postal address.

Noble is released on DVD on Friday 6th November

Cert 15a

Running time 101 mins

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Competition: Win ‘Glassland’ on DVD

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Glassland is now available on DVD and on demand. Featuring Toni Collette, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter, Gerard Barret’s film follows a young taxi driver (Jack Reynor) who is desperately trying to save his mother (Toni Collette) from addiction and unite his broken family.

 

“These are stories that need to be told in Ireland by Irish filmmakers and Barrett is telling them with compassion, subtlety and refreshing honesty”

Read David Gorman’s review of Glassland

 

Thanks to the good folk at Element Pictures we have 3 copies of the DVD to giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question.

 

What was Gerard Barret’s debut feature called?

 

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com before 30th August, when the Film Ireland Hat will hop in a taxi and head to the Dublin Mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Glassland’ on DVD and on Demand

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Glassland will be made available on DVD and on demand from July 31. Featuring Toni Collette, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter, Gerard Barret’s film follows a young taxi driver (Jack Reynor) who is desperately trying to save his mother (Toni Collette) from addiction and unite his broken family.

 

“These are stories that need to be told in Ireland by Irish filmmakers and Barrett is telling them with compassion, subtlety and refreshing honesty”

Read David Gorman’s review of Glassland

 

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Patrick’s Day Released on DVD

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The IFTA-winning and critically acclaimed Patrick’s Day goes on DVD release tomorrow, Friday, 3rd July and will be available to purchase in stores across Ireland including HMV, Xtravision, Tesco, Heatons, Golden Discs, Tower Records and the Irish Film Institute.  It will also be available to buy online on Amazon and the Wildcard websites.

 

Written and directed by Terry McMahon, Patrick’s Day stars rising star Moe Dunford along with Kerry Fox, Catherine Walker and Philip Jackson.  It centres on a young man with mental health issues (Dunford) who becomes intimate with a flight attendant (Walker) with her own demons. When his obsessive mother (Fox) finds out she enlists a dysfunctional detective (Jackson) to separate them.

 

Patrick’s Day review

 

Interview: Terry McMahon, wri/dir ‘Patrick’s Day’

 

 

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‘Calvary’ Released on DVD

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Brendan Gleeson stars in the critically acclaimed Irish box-office smash hit Calvary – from John Michael McDonagh, the writer and director of The Guard.  On DVD & Blu-Ray in Ireland from Friday 8th Aug. 2014, cert: 15A.

 

Calvary is a wickedly dark comedy drama starring some of Ireland’s most exceptional actors including Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Gillen and Dylan Moran. Kelly Reilly rounds off the cast in this 5 star masterpiece from John Michael McDonagh, which is one of the most critically acclaimed Irish films of recent years. Calvary was a box-office phenomenon when released in Irish cinemas earlier this year, with a gross of almost €1.6 million.

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