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Film / Far and Away

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Far and Away is a 1992 drama film, directed by Ron Howard and starring then-married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, along with Thomas Gibson and Colm Meaney.

Set in the 1890s, Irish farm boy Joseph Donnelly (Cruise) and his landlord's daughter Shannon Christie (Kidman) form an unlikely pair as they leave together for Boston in search of their fortunes. In spite of their divergent goals, class differences and Belligerent Sexual Tension, the spirited-but-spoiled Shannon and bold-but-stubborn Joseph must ultimately stick together to survive and achieve the American dream.

Far and Away provides examples of:

  • Adventurous Irish Violins: Used throughout the musical score by John Williams to emphasize the optimistic spirit of the Irish Battler.
  • The Alcoholic: Daniel Christie often drinks alcoholic beverages at the local pub.
  • The American Dream: Many of the characters head to America hoping to take advantage of the land grants being given out in what would become Oklahoma.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Happens while Joseph and Shannon are pretending to be siblings.
    Molly: And I'm your mother.
  • Artistic License Sports: Joseph's use of speed and agility to sidestep and dodge in a boxing match is treated as a novel style that other boxers, accustomed to simply standing still and pummeling their opponents, have never seen before. In reality, boxers began learning this style about 100 years before the events of the film, when the undersized Daniel Mendoza reigned as the heavyweight champion of Britain in the early 1790s and began training others in his "scientific" approach.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: The Movie. Shannon and Joseph spend more time fighting than they do trying to get to Oklahoma.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Stephen Chase and Mr. McGuire are not as nice as they seem to be.
  • Break the Haughty: Shannon is a spoiled brat when she arrives in Boston, but soon learns some hard lessons that nothing will be handed to her on silver platters any more.
  • Bumbling Dad: Mr. Christie.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: "I've burnt many houses in my day. How shall I remember yours?"
  • Chekhov's Gag: Soon after arriving in Boston, Joseph teaches Shannon how to do laundry. Just before the film's climax, we see Shannon teaching her mother the same skill.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mr. Christie, again. He's much nicer than Joseph could expect.
  • Crapsack World: What Far and Away turns out to be. And what Ireland seemed to be before they left.
  • Daddy's Girl: Shannon is much closer to her father than her mother.
  • Doomed Hometown: At the beginning of the film, Joseph's home is burned down by Chase due to unpaid rent.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: In a heavy snowfall, Joseph and Shannon break into a large house, where they find a Christmas tree and a Christmas dinner set out.
  • Drunk with Power: When Joseph acquires fame and fortune from bare-knuckle boxing, he takes immense personal offense that Shannon doesn't like his hat, and attempts to force her to say it.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Shannon and Joseph sneak peaks at each other dressing.
  • Easily Forgiven: Daniel forgives Joseph for trying to assassinate him, having been genuinely unaware that his men had destroyed his home.
  • Erotic Dream: Joseph has an erotic dream during his job on the railway.
  • Everyone Can See It: The entire brothel knows that Joseph and Shannon aren't actually brother and sister.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: The moment Joseph starts being a liability, Mr. Kelley turns on Joseph, stripping him of his room, his job, his status, his money, and makes him a pariah in the Boston Irish community.
  • Fiery Redhead: Shannon fits this easily. Joseph warns their co-workers at the factory that she has a bite that stings, shortly before she demonstrates by lighting up a foreman who docked her a day's pay (exchanging another two days' pay just to do it.)
  • Fighting Irish:
    • Joseph shows up to the Christie family's house with a gun after Daniel's men burn down the Donnelly home.
    • Joseph also boxes in Boston to earn money.
    • Joseph repeatedly says, "I have no wish ta fight ya" right before fighting someone.
  • Gag Penis: Shannon can't help peeking under the container covering Joseph, when he's lying naked. She looks impressed.
  • Genre Throwback: To the epic historical melodramas of John Ford and David Lean, particularly The Quiet Man and Ryan's Daughter.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Daniel Christie wants to seek out adventure. However, having lived in the lap of luxury his whole life, he was no idea how to go about doing it. The Irish Revolution ends up helping him achieve his dream however, as fleeing to America to acquire land ends up being the adventure he'd always wanted.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Joseph learned his near-unbeatable boxing moves from scrapping with his brothers two on one.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A heroic example. Joseph plots to assassinate Daniel Christie with a rifle for having his home burned down, but the gun backfires on him and he's knocked down.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: In addition to Joseph and Shannon, Shannon's family also travels to America after their home in Ireland is burned to the ground.
  • I Will Find You: The Christies go to America to look for their daughter.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: Happens in a conversation between Joseph and Shannon about their ideal futures.
    Joseph: I pretend I love you.
    Shannon: I pretend I love you too.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Joseph mistakenly assumes Daniel Christie was responsible for killing his father, so he decides to exact a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on him. However, it turns out that Stephen Chase was the one who killed Joseph's father.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: Shannon urges Joseph to come with her and be her servant boy while she's running away to America (since she's secretly taken a liking to him, but also because she wants a way to protect herself); he, on the other hand, angrily rejects the idea.
    • Later, when he's faced with no other alternative (other than getting shot and dying), he does end up becoming her servant for the time being. Although he doesn't miss any opportunities to snark at her while doing so.
      Shannon: May I ask what you are doing, sitting at my table?
      Joseph: I'm eating your chocolate cake.
  • Misplaced Accent: As pointed out by The Irish Post, the Christies, as members of the Anglo-Irish gentry, would be more likely to affect posh-sounding Received Pronunciation than the broad, often-cringeworthy Oireland dialect they use in the film.
  • Motive Decay: Joseph's initial dream of finding land in Oklahoma by taking factory jobs and winning money on Irish prize fights temporarily subsides. He becomes enamored with his celebrity status in the Boston Irish underground, his "friendship" with Mr. Kelley, and spends much of his money on fancy hats and suits.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Mr. Christie successfully cheats his way into a very strong piece of Oklahoma land without getting caught.
  • Oh, Crap!: Joseph, when he realizes that Daniel is going to kill him for his involvement in his father's death.
  • Oireland: And HOW! Poor farmers, Fiery Redheads, everyone living in a tiny rural village, whimsical fiddle music, seaside views, lots of drinking and brawling, and some of the worst affected Oirish accents ever put to film.
    • On the other hand, the film also subverts the trope by emphasizing the often glossed-over class conflict between the peasantry and the gentility, including the Irish Land War.
  • The Power of Love: Shannon's love confession is what convinces Joseph to cling to life at the very end of the movie.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Stephen Chase is to Shannon always charming and polite. Too bad he's a dick to everyone else.
  • The Promised Land: Where Shannon and Joseph originally set out for when leaving Ireland.
  • Redundant Romance Attempt: As Joseph comes from a poor background and Shannon from a wealthy one, he tries to turn himself into somebody well-dressed and classy, wanting to impress her. This backfires, since she already liked him and how different he was from people in her social class.
    Joseph: I tried to prove myself to you, but I know nothing of books or alphabets or sun or moon or... All I know is Joseph loves Shannon. That's all that really matters to me.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: When trying to shoot Mr. Christie (see Whiteboyism), Joseph's gun blows up in his face, and even breaks in half.
    Joseph: Captain...Moonlight.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Joseph's father is killed and his home gets burned down, he sets out to exact revenge on Mr. Christie. It doesn't work out, as it turns out that Chase was the one who burned down his home.
  • Scenery Porn: Gorgeous shots of Ireland and Oklahoma.
  • Shame If Something Happened: This is how Chase threatens Joseph right before the great Oklahoma land race.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: When Shannon and Joseph's Belligerent Sexual Tension is expressed in its purest physical form.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Joseph is a working class man, while Shannon is an upperclass woman. They clash frequently.
  • Snow Means Love: Joseph and Shannon have an odd but touching scene where they confess their love. Meanwhile, it snows outside the home they're taking shelter in.
    Shannon: Pretend... you love me.
    Joseph: I pretend I love you.
    Shannon: I pretend I love you, too.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Shannon, who hails from a rich, proper family, but yearns to be free from her mother's uptight, ladylike ways, which is what motivates her to flee to America.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Mr. Christie. He is kind and friendly with everybody in his local pub, regularly paying for the tabs of everyone there, and spent his entire life craving adventure. However, he's clueless as to how he is actually earning his money (his land and management staff being inherited from his ancestors, he has no idea how much the system is oppressing his farmers) and genuinely apologizes for Chase burning down Joseph's cottage.
  • Uptown Girl: Shannon is from a much higher station than her romantic partner Joseph.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Cruise and Kidman's accents are notorious among Irish viewers as among the worst ever attempted by Hollywood. They're particularly egregious when compared to the authentic dialects of their Irish co-stars like Colm Meaney.
  • Where Do You Think You Are?: During the land rush, Joseph slugs Stephen when the latter pulls a gun on him.
    Joseph: You're not in Ireland anymore, you arrogant bastard!