Brian Friel
Thoughts on Dancing at Lughnasa

The film of Dancing at Lughnasa neither competes with the play of the same title nor attempts to complement it. What it does faithfully and generously is, as filmmakers say, 'open it up'. This means more than offering the characters locations and experiences denied them by the confines of the stage. Of course it means that we can watch the young lovers tearing through the countryside on a motorbike; or take part in a picnic on a boat; or have a clandestine participation in a pagan ritual deep in the mountains.

But at least as importantly, opening up means that we can share the lives of the Mundy girls at a different level and in a new emotional and intellectual excusions. But the process is not a license. It demands faithfulness to the original, the base-camp from which the expedition sets out; a necessary fealty if the characters aren't lost to us, aren't lost to themselves.

I know the producer, the director, the screenwriter - and of course all of the wonderful actors - have all been conscious of the need for this fealty. But when their art demands that they venture far beyond the confines of a rural kitchen in order to make different explorations and fresh discoveries, they do that with courage and sensitivity. And for that I am most grateful.

Dublin, August 1998

return to the filmmaker's index


Copyright ©1998. All Rights Reserved. 
Please mail us with any questions or comments.