Teaching the film Belfast, set at the outset of the Troubles in 1969.

Belfast,’ a memoir of Protestant boyhood in Troubles-torn Northern Ireland, gives a child’s-eye view of Catholicism

“Belfast,” a memoir of Kenneth Branagh’s early Protestant childhood in the Troubles-torn Northern Irish city, gives us a child’s-eye view of Catholicism. “Paddy Cavanaugh told me as long as Catholics keep confessing everything bad they’ve done to a priest, then they can do whatever they want and God will forgive them all the time,” says Buddy, the stand-in for Branagh, who wrote and directed the film. Buddy’s mother confronts his dubious theology with her own. “They get a lot of water thrown on them and then they’re O.K.,” says Mom (Caitríona Balfe). “I think that’s it.” Source; America The Jesuit Review.

With Belfast, Kenneth Branagh Hits Peak Irresistible, Olivia Rutigliano on Branagh’s Sentimental New Film

Kenneth Branagh is a ham. He’s a ham, it’s what he is, he can’t help himself. He loves attention, and he loves art, and he wants to put himself inside everything he enjoys. He wants to be all the heroes, and some of the very good villains. I don’t blame him. I also find it fascinating how his entire oeuvre can be read through the lens of this (innocently) self-centered enthusiasm. Some people find him charming, others find him insufferable, but he is probably, like many of us, merely someone who wants to be recognized as genius and cute and delightful (all of which he is), so he gives himself numerous opportunities to be thought of in these ways.

Lesson plan

  1. Read the article quoted above by Olivia Rutigliano.
  2. Listen to an article about the movie by clicking on the picture below.
  3. Read the text below
  4. Do your own research on the topic and write a text about The Troubles the history and the situation today with Brexit. Sources; BBC, Understanding Northern Ireland’s Troubles, The Northern Ireland Protocol.




That’s a testament to the depth of feeling with which Branagh infuses the film, shot almost entirely in black and white. Though set at the start of the Troubles, the 30-year period of often violent ethno-nationalist conflict often characterized as a religious confrontation in Northern

Ireland, Belfast assiduously avoids taking sides. This is not a political movie. The focus remains trained on a family making a monumental decision and the community around them — just like Branagh’s family did when he was a boy.

The Troubles went on for 30 years, until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Thousands of people died in those decades. But political agreements can’t entirely dispel old disputes and grudges. Periodic low-simmering incidents since then show that those sentiments are still alive and well. And problems created by Brexit have reignited the violence once again.

One comment

  1. Interesting website with many useful ideas. Thank you.

    Inspired by the ideas above I’m in the process of producing a creative writing exercise for a class after we have seen ‘Belfast’. This is a sketch / work-in-progress. Comments or ideas would be appreciated.

    ‘Belfast’: Creative writing – in groups
    Write a text that one way or the other deals with the Troubles either as it was then, or as the situation is now. It could be an article, an essay, a letter, a long SoMe-post, a review, etc.

    Topic ideas:
    – the Good Friday Agreement and after
    – Problems of Brexit in Northern Ireland
    – Other political or societal issues
    – Ideas of family and growing up

    Write somewhere between 400 and 500 words. Use as much inspiration from the film as you can.

I would love to hear from you