Neil Jordan Criticism - Essay

Richard Kearney (essay date Autumn 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Avenging Angel: An Analysis of Neil Jordan's First Irish Feature Film," in Studies, Vol. LXXI, No. 283, Autumn, 1982, pp. 296-303.

[In the following essay, Kearney praises Jordan's Angel and asserts that "the credit must surely go to Neil Jordan himself whose inspired scripting and directing prove him to be one of the most talented imaginations working in Ireland today."]

Angel, directed by Neil Jordan, is ostensibly a film which deals with political violence in Ireland. I believe it does so in a highly original and perceptive manner. But before analysing and assessing Angel in detail, I think it may be useful to give a brief account of...

(The entire section is 4953 words.)

D. A. N. Jones (review date 20 October-2 November 1983)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Saint Jane," in London Review of Books, Vol. 5, No. 19, October 20-November 2, 1983, pp. 17-18.

[In the following excerpt, Jones discusses Jordan's The Dream of a Beast and concludes, "To dismiss this well-tuned story as self-indulgent nonsense would be easy—but very unmusical."]

… Another way to offer experience of a derangement of the senses, especially the exultant, ecstatic sort of derangement, is to make use of our shared knowledge of dreams. Telling other people our dreams often bores them. But anyone who has been taken by the writing of Traherne, or Rimbaud, may turn to Neil Jordan's novel, The Dream of a Beast, without fear of tedium. What happens to the narrator is pleasingly tangible and sensuous, stimulating excitement without fear. The dreamer takes it for granted that the world has changed suddenly—the heat, the pavements cracking, strange plants sprouting thick, oily, unrecognisable leaves over plate-glass windows; he walks to work along the buckled tracts of the railway line, stopping to take advantage of the rare trains but not expecting them. He notices young soldiers getting younger as they prowl efficiently, keeping guard, perhaps obeying some master plan to control the heat.

The narrator is becoming a beast. His skin and his hair are changing. Do the women, the beauties, like this beast? The dreamer seems unable to see himself: he can only guess about his looks, from the women's advances and revulsions. He covers himself with bandages—not in self-disgust, like Mr Samsa in Kafka's tale, ashamed that he has become a beetle—but rather as a useful, interesting disguise. He climbs buildings as if he were flying, his bandages unfurl and roll down to earth, caught by an admiring boy who returns them—'I brought your things, sir!'—and fetches green corntips for the beast to eat. Sprinklers are hissing over the lawns and a fish is walking by the mareotic lake and a tree has shed its covering of scales. The last thing the dreamer tells us is that he is looking into the globes of a girl's eyes and seeing in his face reflected there 'something as human as surprise'. Perhaps he is waking from his dream, for better or worse. To dismiss this well-tuned story as self-indulgent nonsense would be easy—but very unmusical….

Alex Raksin (review date 5 February 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Dream of a Beast, in The Los Angeles Times Book Review, February 5, 1989, p. 4.

[In the following excerpt, Raksin asserts that "Ultimately, then, The Dream of a Beast is an eloquent testament to the value of listening to the poetry of everyday life…."]

Like Blue Velvet and Parents, two recent films about the domestic 1950s, this inspired, surrealistic novel reveals the emotional currents swirling beneath the calm surface of suburban life. But rather than depicting these feelings as a dark, dangerous underworld best suppressed with a smile, as the films have done, Jordan, director of the 1986 film Mona Lisa...

(The entire section is 536 words.)

Neil Jordan with Marlaine Glicksman (interview date January-February 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Irish Eyes," in Film Comment, Vol. 26, No. 1, January-February, 1990, pp. 9-11, 68-71.

[In the following interview, Jordan discusses different influences on his work and how he approaches filmmaking.]

Neil Jordan lives in Bray, near Dublin and even nearer to the Irish Sea, just next door to the house where James Joyce lived and wrote. The setting couldn't be more perfectly suited had he been a character in one of his own stories or films: quintessentially and romantically Irish, yet also one step beyond, off the beaten path. Jordan's "Irishness" comes through most clearly in his literary finesse—including his film scripts—as well as his subterranean...

(The entire section is 3616 words.)

John Collick (essay date 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Wolves through the Window: Writing Dreams / Dreaming Films / Filming Dreams," in Critical Survey, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1991, pp. 283-89.

[In the following excerpt, Collick discusses the role of dreams in Jordan's The Company of Wolves and asserts that "What is being offered appears to be a parody of the Freudian dream work in which the dream symbols, instead of being scrambled images or 'puzzles' that represent unconscious wishes, turn out to be familiar literary images."]

In this essay I'm going to discuss films of texts which have dreams or dreaming as their central theme. Movies and dreams have always been closely linked. Cinema history is filled with...

(The entire section is 2632 words.)

David Lugowski (essay date 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Genre Conventions and Visual Style in The Crying Game," in Cineaste, Vol. XX, No. 1, 1993, pp. 31, 33, 35.

[In the following essay, Lugowski asserts, "What is original and special about The Crying Game is its execution, the mileage Jordan gets from the conventions he respects and those he upsets, and the complexity of its discourse on racial and gender issues."]

Much of the talk surrounding the considerable critical and popular success of writer-director Neil Jordan's latest film, The Crying Game, speaks of how unusual the film is: one critic went so far as to term it "unclassifiable," while Miramax executive Gerry Rich attributes its...

(The entire section is 2378 words.)

Frann Michel (essay date 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Racial and Sexual Politics in The Crying Game," in Cineaste, Vol. XX, No. 1, 1993, pp. 30, 32, 34.

[In the following essay, Michel analyzes the pitfalls concerning gender, sexuality, and race that Jordan fell into when filming The Crying Game.]

Complex, subtle, and beautifully acted, The Crying Game unmistakably evokes and disrupts conventional expectations about national, racial, and sexual boundaries. In achieving its impressive thematic and visual coherence, however, Neil Jordan's compelling film succumbs to some of the risks entailed in its ambitious project. Where its disruptions are insufficient or excessive, the film implies a conservative...

(The entire section is 1584 words.)

Vanessa Place (essay date May-June 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Politics of Denial," in Film Comment, Vol. 29, No. 3, May-June, 1993, pp. 84-86.

[In the following essay, Place discusses how the veiling phenomenon, difference, and uniformity are at work in The Bodyguard and The Crying Game.]

The good thing about middlebrow art is that it nicely reflects society's dull edge. Unlike the avant garde, it makes no particular pretense toward advancement; unlike absolute schlock, it doesn't wallow in the retrograde. Middlebrow art is feel-good art: the world may not be this pleasant yet, but we can spend a lot of money creating an accessible façade. And our current middlebrow ideal is a quiet, placid, Coke-commercial...

(The entire section is 2143 words.)

Leslie E. Gerber (essay date Summer 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Virtuous Terrorist: Stanley Hauerwas and The Crying Game," in Cross Currents, Vol. 43, No. 2, Summer, 1993, pp. 230-35.

[In the following essay, Gerber uses the work of Stanley Hauerwas to analyze the character of Fergus and his moral formation in Jordan's The Crying Game.]

What startled me about The Crying Game was the way the film seemed to center on the very notions of character, virtue, and Christian moral formation that Stanley Hauerwas has been developing over the past two decades. Could this be? In a film devoid of any reference to the church? One about an IRA terrorist?

A friendship between enemies generates the...

(The entire section is 1950 words.)

Hawley Russell (essay date 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Crossing Games: Reading Black Transvestism at the Movies," in Critical Matrix, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1994, pp. 109-25.

[In the following essay, Russell traces the crossing over of race, gender, and sexual categories by the character of Dil in Jordan's The Crying Game, and the cultural implications of our reading of Dil.]

In Neil Jordan's 1992 film, The Crying Game, mainstream American moviegoers experience and participate in reviving latent cultural dreams of sexual and social taboo. A conspiracy not to disclose the film's "secret" spread like wildfire throughout the nation, adding fuel to the fire of transgressive appeal. Such appeal, however, goes...

(The entire section is 5199 words.)

Kristin Handler (essay date Spring 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Sexing The Crying Game: Difference, Identity, Ethics," in Film Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3, Spring, 1994, pp. 31-42.

[In the following essay, Handler argues that "because it takes inadequate account of the way difference has been and is always available as an occasion and an excuse for the inscription of power, the film [The Crying Game] ends up displacing the hierarchical relations that obtain between men and reinscribing them in the realm of sexual difference."]

To what did Jordan's film The Crying Game owe its extraordinary success? Evidently the sheer fact of the film's vigorously promoted and initially well-kept secret drew crowds of...

(The entire section is 6656 words.)

Jack Boozer, Jr. (essay date Winter 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Bending Phallic Patriarchy in The Crying Game," in Journal of Popular Film and Television, Vol. 22, No. 4, Winter, 1995, pp. 172-79.

[In the following essay, Boozer, Jr. analyzes how in The Crying Game, "Jordan emphasizes the construction of sexual difference in the context of political ideology and race, and the role of all three in cultural representation generally."]

Irish writer-director Neil Jordan has set off a firestorm of serious critical response with his contemporary fable The Crying Game. Most of the film's tableaux are constructed around incendiary sexual seductions that deceive his positive characters and the unwary spectator...

(The entire section is 4651 words.)

Seán Farrell Moran (review date February 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Michael Collins, in The American Historical Review, Vol. 102, No. 1, February, 1997, pp. 248-49.

[In the following review, Moran asserts that, "Michael Collins is a superior film that presents a legitimate interpretation of Collins's life and times."]

In the various controversies that swirl around Irish history, a few historical figures serve as ideological touchstones. One's opinions about them reveal much about how one views the nature of Irish politics and questions about Irish identity. Along with Patrick Pearse and Eamonn De Valera, perhaps no person serves this role so well as Michael Collins, arguably the founder of the Irish...

(The entire section is 954 words.)