The complexity of human life is in the Irish movie ‘Pilgrim Hill’

Last week a friend of mine telephoned me to say that I should see the film “Pilgrim Hill”. I had never heard of it and she explained that some man in Kerry had made the film on a budget of about €4,000 and that the main person who believed in the project was the Parish Priest. I asked about the identity of the priest but she did not know. She said that she wanted me to see the film so that we could discuss it. Immediately, the name Pat Moore came to my mind. I went to see the film.
“Pilgrim Hill” did not get rave reviews but, I think that is due to the crassness of our age. It depicts the rural life of a bachelor farmer on a small holding in Kerry but it could be located anyway in Ireland. It is a moving tribute to the some people who were left behind by the supposedly Celtic Tiger era but who preserved a sense of dignity and decency. The film deals with all the issues of rural life. The main character addresses us and tells us about his loneliness, his mother’s death by suicide when he was 12, and his sense of feeling trapped as he cares for a father who was not very kind to him and who stood in the way of his only sexual relationship. He tells us that he would like to have children but accepts that this is not going to happen.
The imagery of this film conveys the reality of Jimmy’s life—rural hardship as one battles with the elements, the tedium of the daily tasks, the oppression of silence when it is not freely chosen and when it is not peppered with human communion.
There is a real sense of poignancy in the relationship between Jimmy and his 28 cows and three dogs. We watch as Jimmy strokes the cows as they are being milked—and we see that this is his only tactile contact. The small comforts are depicted—a cigarette, a pint in the local pub, the companionship of the dog who is under the kitchen table but mostly we get a picture of Jimmy locked within himself in a world of sparse consolation—that comes chiefly from his animals. In the end, he is deprived of this. I think of Hardy’s phrase: “The President of the Immortals had ended his sport with Tess” at the close of Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
What has all this to do with Pat Moore? His name was listed in the credits. I believe that members of the Association of Catholic Priests should be praised when they achieve something that is valuable. I felt a need to acknowledge Pat’s support of this film which is well worth seeing and I believe that there are other Pat Moores out there who appreciate the complexity of human life.

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  1. The film actually received 5 and 4 star reviews from the Irish Times, RTE, Newstalk, Daily Mail. Poster please get your facts right. The film has got RAVE reviews!

  2. Sounds like the life of some priests as much as any farmer.

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