Irish Popcorn! Yeats - A Vision
January 27, 2021
Solas Nua and NYU DC Dialogues presented an experimental non-narrative film-poem drawing on the life of poet WB Yeats and using only his writings.
Beyond Yeats’ popular profile and his cultural tourist caché, little is really known of his complex life story – his tricky love-life, his deep and abiding obsession with the occult and the spirit world, his respectable and not-so-respectable political leanings.
This creative film-poem inspired by the life and imagination of poet WB Yeats, using only the writer’s own words – taken from an audio montage of poems, prose, letters, speeches etc. – allied to a cinematically complex visual montage. This story would relate both the chronological and emotional life of the poet which would then be visualized cinematically using a wide array of filmic techniques, drawing upon digital technology, newly-shot documentary footage, contemporary poetic imagery as well as newly-discovered unseen and rarely-seen historical archival film and photographs. The overall intention is decidedly not to make a dull, if worthy, portrait of an iconic writer, but rather to attempt a visually explosive, dramatically paced and intellectually provocative film about a flesh-and-blood character, a great creative mind and a highly complex man.
Post screening discussion with director Alan Gilsenan in conversation with Cóilín Parsons, Associate Professor of English, Georgetown University.
Yeats' life – alongside his sublime poetry and prose – is a wonderfully dramatic and engaging narrative. It is a life that mirrored its time and the birth of the nation, a nation which was arguably forged as much in Yeats’ imagination as on the streets. The narrative spine of this film-poem has been edited from the extensive writings of Yeats - drawn from his memoirs, letters, speeches prose, and, of course, his poems – and then recorded by acclaimed actor Brendan Coyle. This forms the structural bed for the visual material, filmed personally by the director Alan Gilsenan and edited in close creative collaboration with multiple IFTA award-winning editor Emer Reynolds.
Alan Gilsenan is an award-winning film-maker, writer and theatre director. His work has appeared on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, RTÉ, PBS, SBS Australia, the History Channel and CNBC amongst others. Most recently, he has completed a cinema drama-documentary Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay and the drama Unless. Other work includes Channel 4’s The Road to God Knows Where, Stories from the Silence, Prophet Songs and Between Heaven and Woolworths, documentary work including the series God Bless America for ITV, six hour-long, highly personal portraits of U.S. cities through the eyes of American authors, including Gore Vidal, Neil Simon, Patricia Cornwell and Garrison Keillor; The Green Fields of France, a poetic meditation on the Irish who died in World War One and The Ghost of Roger Casement, a feature documentary on the controversial humanitarian and Irish rebel Roger Casement.
Cóilín Parsons is an associate professor of English at Georgetown University. His research interests include Irish literature, global modernisms, space and scale, cartography, and postcolonial literature and theory. Parsons is also involved in the leadership of the Georgetown Initiative in Global Irish Studies, which aims to strengthen ongoing scholarship in Irish studies in a comparative context.