In the Name of the Father is a film by Jim Sheridan, which tells the story of the terrible miscarriage of justice in which 4 young Irish men were accused of being responsible for a bombing in Guildford, England, and were allegedly responsible for the deaths of 5 British men. The 4 accused (later nicknamed “The Guildford Four”, will then live a real descent into hell, and will be unjustly condemned to a sentence ranging from life imprisonment to 30 years. The film In the Name of the Father tells the true story of an incredible judicial blunder, based on the autobiographical book “Proved Innocent” by Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four.
1974: Gerry Conlon, a 21 year old North Irish man, lives from day to day in Belfast, multiplying petty crimes and petty theft. While he is caught in the act during a copper robbery and tries to escape from the British, he unwittingly approaches an IRA hideout, threatening the safety of the armed group. Faced with this blunder, the IRA orders Conlon to leave town.
In response, Gerry Conlon leaves for London with his friend Paul Michael Hill. Very quickly, both of them meet a hippie community, and lead a very dissolute life, marked by drugs and petty theft.
On 5 October 1974 in Guildford, Gerry and Paul rob a prostitute, unaware that at the same time, 2 British pubs are the target of an IRA bomb attack. The attack will cause the death of 5 British people, and will make the headlines, scandalizing the public opinion. Under media pressure, the police rush to find the culprits, and find in Gerry and Paul ideal culprits.
Both Gerry and Paul were then held in police custody for 7 days without charge and were physically and verbally abused. After a week of intense interrogation, beatings, and psychological intimidation, the police managed to extract a confession from them. These confessions, fabricated from scratch, implicate the participation of Gerry, Paul, and two other hippie friends: Patrick “Paddy” Armstrong and Carole Richardson.
Police are also accusing part of Gerry Conlon’s family of being accomplices in the attack, and of making the explosives used in the Guildford bombing.
After a lightning fast and botched trial, the prison sentences are as harsh as they are outrageous:
Gerry Conlon is imprisoned in the same penitentiary as his father, Giuseppe Conlon, and spends many years at his side fighting for his innocence. But Gerry’s father dies of a lung disease. Sad and broken, Gerry decides to continue the battle by agreeing to work with a lawyer who is determined to get to the truth.
After years of investigation, the police were able to expose the ignominy of this miscarriage of justice, and succeeded in having the Guildford Four released (at that time, the rest of the family had already served their sentence and been released from prison).
Jim Sheridan directed this film to criticize and highlight the terrible collateral damage caused by the Irish-British conflict. We come out of it really upset and scandalized, thanks to the marvellous interpretation of an impeccable Daniel Day Lewis (he plays Gerry Conlon). Pete Postlethwaite who interprets Giuseppe is also very talented, as is Emma Thomson, the lawyer in charge of the case.
A film as moving as it is poignant, to be seen and seen again!