A few nights ago I watched the 1993 drama, In the Name of the Father, which tells the unfortunate story of the Guildford Four, four Irish friends who were in London when the IRA set off a bomb in a local pub in 1975 that killed five British and maimed more. They were tortured into confessing to the crime, wrongly accused of the bombing and sentenced to life in prison. Even when members of the IRA later confessed to the bombing and declared the innocence of the Guildford Four (and the Maguire Seven, also convicted in the case), the British authorities were loathe to admit their mistakes at the cost of their reputations. Finally, with the help of a British detective, they received a second chance in court and their crimes and case were dismissed by the courts in 1987. No one was punished, however, amongst the British officials unofficially deemed responsible.
As an American-Israeli watching this movie in 2007, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Guantanamo Bay on one hand and the ‘matzav’ in Israel on the other. The case of the Guildford Four happened at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland; I feel that the past 7 years have been enough trouble for America, and they are only getting worse. I found the opening seen, a street riot between Belfast residents and the British Army to be reminiscent of the Palestinian Intifada.
Art imitates life; life imitates art. Either way, violent conflict is all around us at all times. No matter how much art tries to serve as mirror – reflecting humanity – it is still only regarded by humans as mere art; and life, no matter how conflicted, must carry on.