The General
A Film By John Boorman
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Production Notes
"The General," written, produced and directed by John Boorman, is about the life of the notorious Irish criminal Martin Cahill. His potent mix of violence, humor and generosity made him a legend in his lifetime, a legend that has grown largely since his death in 1994. The film tells the story of Cahill's life of crime, exposing his deep-seated resentment for and his open defiance of all authority, his colorful, clever and relentless battle with the Irish police force, and his unusual relationship with his wife Frances and her sister Tina, with whom he also fathered children.

"It's a story of an iconoclast," Boorman says, "Cahill invented his own world, his own rules and lived by them. He took on the police, the state and the church and beat them with his wit and cunning. But he was also brutal and violent and controlled his gang with a rod of iron. The film explores this complexity, the uniqueness of the man and the sheer exuberance of his exploits."

Boorman's "The General" began filming its eleven week schedule on August 10, 1997 on location in Dublin, Ireland. The film stars Brendan Gleeson, Adrian Dunbar, Jon Voight, Sean McGinley, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Angeline Ball.

Brendan Gleeson, one of Ireland's foremost leading actors, plays Martin Cahill, a.k.a. The General. On Brendan playing the role Boorman says "I am privileged to witness that extraordinary thing that happens from time to time when an actor finds the part he was born to play, I am just lost in admiration for what Brendan is doing."

Following many years waiting for the right opportunity to work together again, "The General" reunites John Boorman and Jon Voight. Their last collaboration was Boorman's Oscar-nominated "Deliverance." Voight plays Inspector Ned Kenny arch nemesis to Martin Cahill, and perfected a specific Irish accent and character within days of arriving in Ireland.

Boorman assembled a crew, many of whom had worked successfully with him on previous productions. Executive Producer Kieran Corrigan, Managing Director of Merlin Films, has collaborated with Boorman since 1981 on productions including "Excalibur" and "Hope and Glory." Director of Photography Seamus Deasy is responsible for the stunning photography on Boorman's "Two Nudes Bathing" and Production Designer, Derek Wallace collaborated with Boorman on "Beyond Rangoon" and "Two Nudes Bathing." Costumes were designed by Maeve Paterson and Casting by Jina Jay who also worked with Boorman on "Two Nudes Bathing." "The General" is Editor Ron Davis' ninth collaboration with Boorman. Musical score was composed by Irish jazz saxophonist Richie Buckley with songs by Van Morrison.

The contemporary story is set against an urban landscape. Boorman found the Dublin he was looking for in the inner-city dock lands of Dublin. A riverside warehouse was to be the center of the eleven week shoot providing an ideal space for John Boorman and Derek Wallace, the production designer, who set out to utilize the space to its full advantage, in one instance used a particular warehouse interior for three of the main sets in the picture. The adjacent dockside lent itself to the recreation of Boorman's Dublin of the eighties, with cobbled lanes, old alleys and terraced streets.

Across the river, Boorman recaptured the Hollyfield of Martin Cahill's childhood in the Sheriff Street flats, a derelict monument to the inner-city slums that survived until the late eighties. Apart from the location itself, which is the last of its kind in Ireland, the much loved Sheriff Street people, with their distinct sense of humor, come to life on screen as the Hollyfield men, women and children of 1962.

Cahill's night time forays into the Irish mountains were filmed in Boorman's "spiritual homeland" the Wicklow mountains, a stone's throw away from Boorman's home of over twenty five years.

The Russborough House robbery is one of the highlights of Cahill's criminal career. Boorman staged the night time robbery in a stately home found in the suburbs of Dublin. Cahill and his gang steal a rare collection of paintings that includes a Rubens, Goya and the only Vermeer in private ownership. Boorman recruited the talents of English artist Jill Andrea Reid, who is also responsible for the unique and sensual artwork on Boorman's "Two Nudes Bathing" and has, Boorman says fondly, "faked some of the world's greatest paintings for film." Over the months leading into production Jill brought the masters to life in remarkable detail.

As in all Boorman's pictures the stunts were performed by the actors themselves and Brendan Gleeson threw himself into the physicality of the role taking motorcycle lessons in order to cruise the legendary Harley Davidson associated with Cahill.

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