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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly moving film
Song For A Raggy Boy [2003]

I had heard about this film from a number of friends and colleagues. I remember seeing Aidan Quinn being interviewed about it on the Late Late show (RTE Television). I therefore had my preconceptions and thought that there would be nothing new here for a seasoned viewer of factually- based movies.

What I most admire...
Published on 1 Sept. 2008 by J. J. Murphy

versus
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its not my cup of tea!
Its an ok film wasnt really my cup of tea. I woudnt reccommend it to anyone who is easily offended, It contains a lot of child abuse ie flogging. It was a very powerful, good drama, although it wouldnt be everyone's cup of tea. The acting was excellent! The film has a bad start but a justified ending. This is based on a reformed school for boys.
Published on 21 Jun. 2010 by Peter C. Chiverton


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly moving film, 1 Sept. 2008
By 
J. J. Murphy "Sean Murphy" (Enniskillen, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
Song For A Raggy Boy [2003]

I had heard about this film from a number of friends and colleagues. I remember seeing Aidan Quinn being interviewed about it on the Late Late show (RTE Television). I therefore had my preconceptions and thought that there would be nothing new here for a seasoned viewer of factually- based movies.

What I most admire about this film is that Aisling Walsh did not shy away from the horrific depiction and realism of the violence. Whilst not being sensationalist this is truly brutal and disturbing. Iain Glenn is well presented as the vengeful, sadistic and zealous Brother John, whilst Aidan Quinn gives a superb performance as a damaged man determined to do the right thing whilst battling his own demons. Dudley Sutton and Mark Warren are both excellent in their suporting roles and Warren as the tortured paedophilic Brother Mac even manages to wring a smidgen of understanding from the viewer when set against the unrelenting cruelty of Brother John.

John Travers as Liam Mercier and Chris Newman as Delaney are the excellent leads over a cast of exceptionally talented young men. This is a film which has haunted me for a long time and presents the best and worst of humanity. It is a chilling expose of the dangers of institutionalism on fragile and vulnerable people.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The peaceful night that round me flows., 28 April 2013
By 
This review is from: A Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
Last night, for the first time in a few years, I revisited this amazing film.
It is a harrowing film which reflects the reformatory system in Ireland and the overwhelming power the Church wielded over Irish society until very recently.

William Franklin - Aidan Quinn - comes to teach at St. Judes reformatory school in 1939 after is wife died in the Spanish Civil War (the events of which are shown in fleeting flashbacks during the film). As the first 'lay' teacher to come to St. Judes he is the first person to question and challenge the brutal punishments of Brother John - Ian Glen (who is now in Game of Thrones) - who treats the boys there as creatures, only understanding brutal force.
However, Franklin shows how love and care for the boys - an aspect they had sorely been missing - worked much more effectively. The scenes in the classroom where they develop from reading the alphabet to being able to recite poetry and read is truly heartwarming.
Franklin becomes the saviour of the boys, save one.
This film does not shy away from the awful truths of the reformatory system. It shows how the horrendous actions of the clergy were hushed up by the church, and offenders were simply moved to different parishes.
However, the film also shows that there is goodness in people - including many in the church - and all people need is someone to stand up for them. This film wonderfully demonstrates how, with a little care and attention, anyone can grow and learn - even under such horrible conditions.
The music is also wonderful.
I don't often write reviews, but after watching last night, I felt compelled to encourage as many people to watch this as possible. It is truly spectacular.

Also: catch a rather young and tanned Robert Sheehan. He doesn't say much, but he is in a lot of background scenes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty Realism of Irish Institutions, 21 Jun. 2009
By 
A. C. Hutton - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
A hard-hitting look at life for unfortunate boys that have strayed and ended-up being 'schooled' by a Catholic institution (like the Christian Brothers).The film is mainly seen through eyes of a progressive teacher fresh from fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. His attitude is at odds with the other so-called teachers who routinely use violence as a means of control.The violence meted out by them is beyond anything that could be considered just (and is also used by some brethren to sexually abuse their charges); the crescendo of violence culminates in the murder of one such 'inmate'. The progressive teacher has a crisis of confidence after this slaying and decides to leave. However, on seeing the poor faces of the boys, he sees that he is much loved and needed. A very touching, emotive and depressing film that made me feel angry towards those Catholic Institutions that were given responsibility for 'wayward' boys and girls in the last 80 years or so.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Between salvation and martyrdom, 12 July 2012
By 
This review is from: A Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
The first lay teacher, William Franklin, in Saint Jude's Reformatory and Industrial school in Ireland in 1939, coming back from the defeated republican war in Spain, had a hard time with the prefect of the school, a brutal and sadistic disciplinary brute, "brother" and why not "father" John.

This first lay teacher will nearly leave some time around Christmas 1939 when John beat to death Liam Mercier, a child that William Franklin had saved from total rejection and submission to his fate of pariah. The children unanimously stopped him when he was leaving after John and his accomplice Mac, a priest who was abusing some children, had been moved out of the school, one to go preach Africans in Africa and the other to take care of a parish in the USA. In other words the murder went unpunished.

Things were changing since the separation wall between the younger boys and the older boys was being brought down by the priests and by the kids. The school was finally able to contemplate a happier future and the boys committed here by justice were finally able to consider some kind of a positive future.

The film insists on the fact that such boys who have been rejected by their families, then by society and locked up behind bars need like all children, but it is a lot more difficult to give them what they need, motivation to learn, understanding based on listening and love, a lot of love, and that's where this refectory and industrial school system was completely wrong. The guidance these kids needed and expected could easily be turned into complete alienation and physical violence and the love they looked for and wanted could be twisted into sexual abuse in a jiffy.

The main lesson from such a real episode as depicted in this film is that these boys were not responsible for what they were to become on the basis of what they had been and had done because between the two, the past and the future, the present of education, understanding and love was transformed into alienation, depravation, exploitation, violence and abuse by some sadistic and perverted adults, unluckily tolerated by the others who lacked the courage to say no.

But the last scene of this film is a full symbol of the love these kids expect from the adult world and the love they are able to give back when they have been nourished and nurtured with what they need to be and become.

This is a very beautiful film that adds to this sad Irish episode some dramatic flashbacks on the Spanish Civil War and the news about the beginning of the Second World War. Unluckily history was to make William Franklin die on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. He was not able to see the future of the world in which he had fought all his living years against injustice and violence.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Song for Forgotten Boys?, 12 July 2012
By 
P. WILLIAMS "huggy bear" (spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
A fim so perfectly cast with many well-known actors in the leads, Aidan Quinn(Mr.Franklin) Iain Glen (Brother John) Mark Warren(Brother Marc) Dudley Sutton)Brother Tom)as well as two unknown child actors who were absolutely fantastic in their roles with John Travers as Liam Mercier and Chris Newman as the sexually abused Patrick Delaney.
Maybe Spoilers:Apparently based on a true story this is set in St. Judes Reformatory & Industrial School, where unruly young children are sent when they have committed crimes AND/ OR are judged to be beyond their parents control(and basically when their parents want nothing to do with them for no reason other than that).
The children seem to be between the ages of about 8 and 16 and when a new teacher(Quinn) arrives having recently fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side he makes his mark but the children soon see he is fair and take to him and he earns their respect. He also earns the hatred of Brother John(Glen)for interfering when he is meting out one of his punishments.Br.John was appointed directly by the Bishop and THIS is the reason Father Damian who is in charge of the school, gives, for NOT taking Br.John to task over his behaviour.Apart from the fact that Br.John is a near psycopath of course has nothing to do with it.
I don't want to give-away any more of the films plot, it is a film with many sad moments, a few almost wryly, funny comments from Mercier and tremendous acting all-round.Certainly worth its' rating I think and ladies may need the tissues handy!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More like a lament, 12 Dec. 2011
This review is from: A Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
A powerful and at times very harrowing movie that shows the injustices and sadistic practices that took place under the veil of the Roman Catholic church in 1930`s Ireland. Aidan Quinn is superb as the lay teacher who tries to make life better for the boys who reside at St Jude`s Reformatory School but he`s up against Brother John ( Ian Glen )and Brother Mac ( Marc Warren ) who have their own ideas about discipline. Punchy and poignant and well worth watching.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Child Abuse by Catholic Priests, 11 April 2013
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This review is from: A Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
I was told about this film by a casual acquaintence and so didn't know quite what to expect. Having been raised in Ireland at the same time depicted in the film I found it brought back memories. The film is very atmospheric and well paced. The central characters are strong and evoke strong emotions.the storyline is credible with a very strong finish.
In summary, this is a well produced film about a very difficult subject. It would be of special interest to the Irish.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars song for a raggy boy, 29 Jun. 2009
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This review is from: Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
excellent film very moving would recommend it sad to think that so long ago this went on but sadly still happens (you'll need the tissues for this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars catholic horror, 28 May 2014
This review is from: A Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
I'm told that there is a cinema in the Vatican. If so, I hope that Pope Francis is watching this one. After seeing "The Magdalene Sisters" and reflecting that sadism could not be more vividly depicted, I realised that this remarkable movie encapsulated the hypocrisy which still permeates the Catholic Church. A similar film, set in Canada, "The Boys of St Vincent" tells the same story. What does a child have to do to be believed. When the Catholic Church, the government and the police force refuse to listen to the cries of the innocent, where are the Aidan Quinns of this world to stand up against authoritarian regimes ?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film really got to me, 25 May 2014
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This review is from: A Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] (DVD)
Being of an 'older' generation I am aware of some of the stories of the harsh discipline meted out in some of the schools and institutions. I remember children being 'deported' to Australia in the early 50's. I found this film plausible and sickening but I couldn't turn it off. How some of those boys survived without being permanently mentally damaged I don't know. Perhaps they didn't.

I would recommend this film but be prepared to be shocked.
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Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD]
Song For A Raggy Boy [DVD] by Aisling Walsh (DVD - 2006)
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