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Another war movie for Michael?

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Another war movie for Michael? Empty Another war movie for Michael?

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:24 am

All the way on the bottom:

The unforgiven
March 19, 2010 - 3:40PM

Fateful meeting ... a convicted murderer (Liam Neeson) faces his victim's brother (James Nesbitt).

A chance for revenge or reconciliation is at the heart of Five Minutes of Heaven.

After the acclaimed Hitler film Downfall, then the disappointing Hollywood sci-fi movie The Invasion, German director Oliver Hirschbiegel went in an unlikely direction.

He headed to Northern Ireland to make an intense drama about two men still haunted by the murder of a young Catholic by a Protestant teenager in the 1970s.

Three decades after that violent moment during that country's bloody Troubles, a television crew has arranged for the killer, played by Liam Neeson, to meet the dead youth's younger brother, James Nesbitt, as an act of reconciliation. It's a prospect that brings up strong, unresolved emotions for both men. Given Five Minutes of Heaven was originally planned as a BBC TV drama, Hirschbiegel seems like an improbable director – until he explains the rationale.

“On a political basis, it wouldn't have been a wise idea to have a Protestant director,” he says. “Nor a Catholic, for obvious reasons. An English director wouldn't have been a very smart choice, either. And Americans are difficult as well because they tend to support the Catholic side in that conflict.

“So, aside from an Australian, it wasn't the worst choice. You have kind of a neutral standpoint.”

The film is based on real-life events but extends into a fictional meeting between the two men. When Neeson agreed to star as the killer, who has become an expert on conflict resolution after being released from jail, it went from a TV project to a movie.

Hirschbiegel liked that the script read like a Greek tragedy.

“It deals with basic questions of guilt, remorse, revenge, hatred – how to deal with these questions,” he says.

“They're universal. They relate to anybody, may he live in some little tribe in the jungle or a big city in the Western world.”

Making Five Minutes gave the director insights into the universal aspect of the Troubles.

“I set out to make it as Northern Irish as possible – as authentic as possible. But, on the other hand, conflicts of this kind are all over the world. It's often about young boys who get the urge to prove themselves, who have the need for a strong feeling of identity and that leads to outbreaks of ethnic violence. Wherever you have violence like that – civil war – you find the same happens.”

Intriguingly, no one in Ireland asked Hirschbiegel about his own religion. “Being a German was enough for them," he says. "We had the Catholic-Protestant wars hundreds of years ago. Everybody knows that Catholics and Protestants in Germany live in very friendly co-existence.”

Hirschbiegel was a successful director in Germany, initially in television then in film with the 2001 thriller The Experiment, until the World War II drama Downfall gave him an international profile.

He has enjoyed the slew of YouTube parodies of the movie, which show Hitler exploding with rage about topical events, even power plays within the NSW Liberal Party. “Most of them are really funny – they make me laugh. I, of course, have to turn down the sound but most of them are very inventive. It's amazing how much effort people put into all these lines.”

Hirschbiegel's next movie was The Invasion, a Hollywood remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, about mysterious entities from space who try to take over the world.

“It was an offer that I couldn't refuse," he says. "It was kind of ready to go and I'd just spoken to Nicole Kidman and we'd decided we wanted to do something together.

"They put that on my table and before I knew it, it was happening way too fast, looking at it now. We had to start shooting when the script wasn't ready yet.”

The director readily admits the film didn't work: “I wanted to take it . . . into how we really live in this capitalist world and how fake and unemotional lots of things are . . . We just didn't get it right in time."

Hirschbiegel will focus on another battle for his next movie – about child soldiers in the Sierra Leone civil war and starring Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds). “It deals with a British soldier being confronted by these kids.”

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