Books Magazine

Jimmy’s Hall #FilmReview

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

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My post last week reviewed the fun book That’s Not English by Erin Moore. Sim continued her fantasy walk about London with a visit to Kew Gardens to see the Christmas lights. Becky reviewed two classic children’s books (The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter and The Wind in the Willows) and one more contemporary one, Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?

Jimmy's Hall film
The danger of dance and books

This movie, based on a true story, centers on a privately-run village hall used for learning and entertainment, mostly for bored and disaffected young people. The owner of the hall, Jimmy Gralton, has returned from exile in New York with new dance steps from the Jazz Age and a new awareness of the dangers of running a society based only on greed, having witnessed the stock market crash of 1929 and the early years of the Great Depression. He attempts to stay out of trouble, but the local priest, landowners, and the British powers-that-be are threatened by his insistence that dance is a healthy, and very Irish, form of expression, and that every person deserves the opportunity to read and think for himself or herself.

I kept seeing aspects of this story that ring true for today in the US — a bit depressing for a story that was set in Ireland in the 1930s. The One Percenters pretend that their interests are part and parcel of everyone else’s interests while exploiting workers, renters, and small businesses. Those in power cynically set groups of poor on one other so that they are too busy fighting each other to wage an effective campaign for a fair and decent life for all. A mean-spirited church, in conjunction with the rich, attempts to preserve its own power by preaching hate rather than love. Anyone who tries to better himself or herself and others, without the blessing of the church or the structure of the state, is branded a Communist.

I’m a little surprised that the Catholic Church remained as powerful as it did in Ireland for as long as it did, given how nasty it was to ordinary people. Besides this film, I’m thinking of The Magdalene Sisters and Philomena. Of course, both of those movies and, to a degree, this one, were about controlling the women. I guess patriarchal societies will put up with a lot of mean-spiritedness in the name of controlling women. If they fear us that much, how much power could we wield?

Did you see this movie? Were you led to have radical thoughts?

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