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The Hanging Gale
The Hanging Gale
Actor: Michael Kitchen; Joe McGann; Mark McGann; Paul McGann; Stephen McGann; Fiona Victory; Tina Kellegher; Sean McGinley; Gerard McSorley; Joe Pilkington; Ciarán Fitzgerald; Ciara Marley; Dylan O'Connell; Barry Barnes; Birdy Sweeney; Maire Ni Ghrainne; Mal Wh
Director: Diarmuid Lawrence
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2006     3hr 25min

Donegal 1846. The four upstanding sons of the Phelan family two farmers, a schoolteacher, and a priest are torn between nonviolent protest and bloody revolt when the injustices of the landholding system and the onset of th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Michael Kitchen; Joe McGann; Mark McGann; Paul McGann; Stephen McGann; Fiona Victory; Tina Kellegher; Sean McGinley; Gerard McSorley; Joe Pilkington; Ciarán Fitzgerald; Ciara Marley; Dylan O'Connell; Barry Barnes; Birdy Sweeney; Maire Ni Ghrainne; Mal Wh
Director: Diarmuid Lawrence
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/21/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1995
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 3hr 25min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

An Absolutely First-Rate Historical Drama!
Tiggah | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 05/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Set in County Donegal, Ireland, just prior to and during the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, The Hanging Gale is a powerful and emotionally charged, not to mention insightful and informative, account of one family's struggle to survive the devastation--a situation made only worse by the cruel and unbending governance by the British.

The series stars the four McGann brothers as the four Phelan brothers. Brother Liam (Paul McGann--Withnail and I, Horatio Hornblower, Fish) is a Catholic priest, a man whose faith is sorely tried throughout the family's ordeal; while Daniel (Stephen McGann), a passionate and angry young man with a dangerous secret, is a school teacher. Brothers Sean (Joe McGann) and Conor (Mark McGann--The Grand) live and work with their father on the family farm, along with Sean's wife, Maeve, and their small children. The Phelan's holding is a small one and is one of many let by Lord Hawksborough, a highly unsympathetic, avaricious absentee British landowner--a man whom we never see, but whose presence (not to mention iron will) is represented by his agent.

The series opens with the murder of the agent by a radical and dangerous group of Irish vigilantes. Enter Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War) as Captain Townsend, the new agent. Townsend is appalled by what he sees and is sympathetic to the plight of the Irish tenants, but he is not the landowner. His duty is to his Lordship--to manage the property and collect the rents on his Lordship's behalf. Apart from writing to his master to inform him of the situation and to make requests on behalf of the tenants, there is little that Townsend is able to do. It is Townsend's good nature that creates the tremendous tension in this splendid series, for we are torn as we sympathize with both the Phelans (and the other tenants) as their situation goes from bad to worse and with Townsend, whose hands are tied.

I don't wish to delve in detail about the complexities of the plot and the twists and turns that it takes as I don't wish to spoil anyone's enjoyment of this fine series. Suffice it to say that the series (produced in 1995 and consisting of four 50-minute episodes) is a captivating--indeed riveting--historical drama that will keep one on the edge of one's seat and waiting in anticipation for the next episode. It has the added benefit of being educational and informative, and it provided much in the way of conversation for our family in between episodes. As should be obvious, this is a heavy series, but it is not one that will be soon forgotten, and I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys top quality (and well-acted) historical drama. I would go further, however, and recommend it to anyone looking for a good, captivating drama, full stop.

Very highly recommended!"
Very Fair Movie
GEORGE RANNIE | 02/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is about four brothers in Ireland at the time of the potato famine (mid 1800's). The brothers are played by four real life brothers including Paul McGann (Our Mutual Friend(1999), Hornblower). It also features Michael Kitchen, familiar to Masterpiece Theater fans as DCS Foyle in Foyle's War. The four brothers each have a different profession and different personalities. One is fiery and wishes to kill as many English as possible. It is an extremely fair production, showing what really happened. When we first rented it from Netflix, we were afraid that since it was BBC Northern Ireland that it would be very unfair. However, we were pleasantly surprised in that it treats everything exactly the way it was with no unbalanced prejudice. It is not a very uplifting film as it shows the grim reality of the English occupation of Ireland and the results of the Potato Famine. However, for a look at what really happened it is excellent and the acting is very well done. We only saw the first half so far since Netflix did not ship the second disk. Highly recommended."
GEORGE RANNIE | DENVER, COLORADO United States | 09/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Until viewing this superb albeit very dark and bloody BBC presentation of "Hanging Gale", I had NO idea of the plight of the Irish in the mid-1800s. This presentation dwells primarily on the struggles of the Phelan family and mainly about the four brothers as played wonderfully by real life brothers, Paul, Stephen, Joe and Mark McGann--who are very rugged and very handsome; with one brother being a rather emtionally torn priest and all of them prone to violence and not above committing murder. The brothers are trying to deal with the devastation of poverty, starvation, crop failure, etc. (along with some of the dreariest weather that I've ever seen on film) that is happening to their family and friends and, of course, that meant dealing with Captain Townsend as played greatly by Michael Kitchen who is a rather "mild-mannered" agent for the absent and without a clue land owner. This 2 disc (two episodes on each disc) mini-series is greatly acted and directed. I certainly now have more knowledge and understanding of what happened to the Irish during the time being depicted.

Be advised that this is no cushy "Hallmark" presentation. It is a very harsh and realistic presentation that never lets up from its depiction of some very grim times. If you love good drama that will leave you weak in the knees from emotional exhaustion, buy these DVDs.
The Rich Own Everything, including the Law
G. Charles Steiner | San Francisco | 01/22/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This four-part film is top-notch. It is not only the story of the Irish potato famine of two centuries ago, but it is about man's inhumanity to man, about how man is a wolf to man because largely the rich own everything, including the land you live and work on, and including the law, while unprivileged human beings (with no inheritable wealth) are merely serfs, slaves, consumers, "creatures." Michael Kitchen, a wonderful, even adorable actor, plays a dishonorable role in this film, an agent of the rich (in England). When the Irish Phelan family lose their home and land by Part 3, one wonders what Part 4 can say or illustrate. It seems as if the film is over at this point. The finale has been shown and completed. Part 4, however, is a worthy counterpart to the first three parts. Do not discount it. This film is very instructive, by analogy, as to what will or can occur should men and women defend liberty in America now that Global Governance has started it's greedy (carbon trading/vegetarian/GMO foods/international socialism) claims, with the Elite (rich) at the very top giving the orders. Potatoes anyone? Or shall everyone just eat cake (if you can afford it)? Highly recommended, particularly for those who are not egosyntonic."