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"Into the heart of Provoland" ...,
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This review is from: Harry's Game The Complete Series  [DVD] (DVD)
Gerald Seymour was for many years a reporter for Independent Television News, his assignments covering the Vietnam War, the Indo-Pakistan conflict, the Aden crisis, the Northern Ireland troubles, the Yom Kippur War, and the abduction and murder of Prime-Minister Aldo Moro in Italy. He has written several highly-regarded novels, based on both actual events and first-hand knowledge, such as THE GLORY BOYS (televised as a two-part serial), Kingfisher, RED FOX (televised as a three-part serial), Condition Black, At Close Quarters, The Journeyman Tailor and the contentious The Heart Of Danger (1995), in which both the UN's limitations and legal ineptitude, and several governments' politically-embarrassing shenanigans are exposed as an attempt is made by 'private enterprise' to abduct from Bosnia and bring to a war crimes trial a murderous Bosnian-Serb paramilitary enforcer - an act of 'justice' perhaps, but unfortunately also certain to scupper then-ongoing peace negotiations. The theme of all of these novels is a sad inevitability of troubled but courageous individuals, powerless and marginalized by the merciless grind of 'the bigger picture' going on facelessly around them.
Seymour's first novel was HARRY'S GAME, sombre, melancholy and tragic. The IRA send a man to London to assassinate the Secretary of State for Social Services, Henry Danby, M.P. ... on his own doorstep in Belgrave Square, in front of his wife and children. This is viewed as a 'direct attack' on Her Majesty's Government, and the PM - with clenched fists - instructs 'maximum effort' from his cautious RUC Chief Constable and the sceptical GOC Northern Ireland, no stone to be left unturned in the pursuit of this killer. When they have left the Cabinet Office briefing-room, the PM authorizes an undercover operation without the RUC and British Army in Northern Ireland being informed. From an easy posting with Berlin Brigade, enter Captain Harry James Brown (Ray Lonnen) who is to be "put into the heart of Provoland, into the Falls, in Belfast [...] with the express and only job of listening for any word of the man who shot the minister, Danby, three days ago."
As Harry McEvoy, merchant seaman, who has been away for over ten years, Brown's unfamiliarity with the Falls, Andersonstown and the Ardoyne is partly excused as he settles into his covert and highly perilous mission. But Ireland has a gift: its charm, perhaps even a magic, has absorbed all invaders and newcomers, from the Norwegian Vikings and Normans of yesteryear down to today's holidaymakers - one easily becomes part of the place. Harry becomes too involved, and this cruel irony is revealed in the final frames ...
It still being 1982, and with the wave of hunger-strikes (Bobby Sands, et al) putting Northern Ireland on the headlines of foreign newspapers as well, the outdoor scenes were shot in England, mostly in the run-down estates of Leeds. This was a very good and accurate-to-the-original television adaptation of a thoughtful novel (the later RED FOX was neither as good nor as accurate) that will now seem quite dated - fortunately thanks to the ongoing peace accord efforts. Today it is best remembered thanks to Maíre Brennan's haunting vocals: Irish group Clannad's signature tune 'Theme from Harry's Game' was the first Celtic-vocals song to reach No. 1 in the British pop charts.
HARRY'S GAME contains loose parallels with the real-life events of both Grenadier Guards/SAS Captain Robert Nairac, GC's undercover operation (and his brutal murder by the IRA on 15 May, 1977), and the 1979 assassination in the Houses of Parliament underground carpark of Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Airey Neave, MP. Several of the characters who first appeared in HARRY'S GAME, principally Howard Rennie of the RUC, featured again later in Field Of Blood.
There have been several more film and TV dramas set against The Troubles in Northern Ireland: CAL, CHILDREN OF THE NORTH, THE CRYING GAME and PATRIOT GAMES, but I'd say HARRY'S GAME is the best. Because in it people die, hope is smashed, and ... nobody wins.
Perhaps the tragedy of The Troubles in Northern Ireland can be felt in the rare beauty and heartfelt simplicity of a twelve-year-old girl's poem. Catholic magistrate William Staunton had just dropped his two daughters at their convent school and was watching them from his car when two IRA motor-cyclists came up and shot him. Staunton lingered for three months before dying. One of the newspapers published the girl's poem:
'Don't cry,' Mummy said
'They're not real.'
But Daddy was
And he's not here.
'Don't be bitter,' Mummy said
'They've hurt themselves much more.'
But they can walk and run -
'Forgive them and forget,' Mummy said
But can Daddy know I do?
'Smile for Daddy, kiss him well,' Mummy said,
But can I ever?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Aug 2008 18:24:12 BDT
Posted on 25 Mar 2009 20:51:59 GMT
This is one of the best reviews I've ever read on Amazon.
Posted on 12 Oct 2010 23:43:39 BDT
This is one of the best reviews I've read - anywhere.
Well written, thoroughly researched and an utter joy to read.
Posted on 1 Sep 2012 18:05:28 BDT
Steven M. Taylor says:
Red Fox was originally a two-parter, not three = 1x120mins & 1x60mins (including adverts).
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