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Film / In the Name of the Father

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Based on a True Story, this 1993 crime drama film is directed by Jim Sheridan and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson.

Set during The Troubles in 1974, the film chronicles the ordeal of the Guildford Four, a group of three young Irishmen and their Englishwoman friend (along with one of the Irish defendants' relatives) who were Wrongly Accused of bombing two British soldiers' pubs in Guildford, England.

Now falsely convicted of murder, petty criminal Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) — along with his father Giuseppe (Postlethwaite), whom he disrespects — must survive in prison together and fight to show they're innocent with the whole British legal system against them.

In the Tropes of the Father:

  • Acquitted Too Late: Giuseppe was exonerated, but only after he'd died as a result of his ill health, which prison exacerbated.
  • Affably Evil: Benbay the prisoner. While he wears a high security prison outfit, meaning that he was convicted of a serious crime like murder or rape, he's quite nice to Gerry while the rest of the prison despise the Irish prisoners. Benbay is also friendly to the tougher criminals like Ronnie Smalls and Joe McAndrew.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • In reality, Gerry Conlon and his father Giuseppe were in separate prisons. Gerry never saw his father again.
    • The Maguire Seven were convicted in a separate trial from the Guildford Four.
    • The real bombers were also never incarcerated with any of the Four, although they did confess at their own trial, exonerating them. Just as in the film, this was dismissed by the British authorities until evidence the police had lied about their confessions was revealed.
    • There was also no alibi witness. Rather, the police falsified their interrogation notes to cover up the coercion they used to obtain the confessions. This was discovered by another police detective, not the Four's lawyer, when he was looking over the case file. However, the Griess test really did result in many false positives (such as the chemicals in playing cards being wrongly identified as nitroglycerin by a technician, for instance).
  • Asshole Victim: Gerry. We first see him stealing building material and his alibi is robbing a prostitute. This is also what gets him in trouble, as he's ordered by the IRA to leave town, and then has no believable alibi in London when the bombing occurs.
  • Badass Pacifist: Giuseppe. Upon entering a Maximum security prison while getting a Death Glare from the other prisoners he boldly declares his and his son's innocence to all of them. He then tells the real bomber to save his pity for the innocent people he murdered and to stay away from them.
  • Blatant Lies: The shot lingers on Inspector Dixon's swearing to tell the truth in both of his court appearances, while we know he's doing no such thing, and perjures himself at great length.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Daniel Day-Lewis puts on a passionate performance as Gerry Conlon with many scenes where he shows extreme rage and sorrow, which is justified, well done and appropriate to show Gerry's plight as a wrongly convicted man.
  • Clear Their Name: The main thrust of the film's plot is to exonerate the Four and Gerry's family.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After Gareth comes to see Giuseppe and help with his case, Gerry is upset by this. He tells her to not to give his father false hope. Later though, he reconciles with Giuseppe and agrees to accept Gareth's help. While he tries to record a tape about his father for Gareth though, Gerry flips out and wrecks his cell as losing Giuseppe simply overwhelms him. This is his last bout with despair though, as after this he grows dead set on exonerating them both.
  • Dirty Coward: Inspector Robert Dixon cannot deal with the truth when the real bomber confesses to him. Dixon continues to maintain the Guildford Four were the culprits in order to save his own reputation.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Giuseppe rebuffs Joe's condolences over him and Gerry doing time for his crimes. It's not so much because he hates pity necessarily, but that it comes from an IRA member who's murdered numerous people. He says to save his pity for the people he's killed.
  • Due to the Dead: After Giuseppe dies, all of the prisoners in the wing, who had come to adore him, protest by burning toilet paper, knowing that being in prison had made his health condition grow fatal. This is the only thing they can do from inside.
  • False Confession: The Guildford Four are tortured and threatened until they falsely confess that they committed two bombings.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Inspector Robert Dixon may come across as polite and acts as the "good" cop in contrast to the brutal detectives who are mercilessly interrogating the Guildford Four. However, Dixon is a slimy liar who knowingly holds back crucial evidence from the defense. This also goes for Joe McAndrew, the real bomber of the Guildford pubs, who slowly charms Gerry at first but then reveals his true colors when he brutally has chief warder Barker burned over taking back the wing from the inmates.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: What the police apparently believed they were doing to the Guildford Four, feeling sure they were all guilty but without enough evidence to convict. It seems they felt good about it.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Giuseppe, big time. This actually earns him respect among the other prisoners and guards as they realize that he clearly is not a violent man and would've never done what he has been convicted of.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Based on the sour looks Deptford Jim gives Gerry when Gerry kisses the woman leader of the commune (played by Saffron Burrows), it could be inferred he gave Gerry's name to the British detectives because of this.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The British government is obviously the main antagonist, but the IRA aren't shown to be upstanding guys either — Gerry first leaves Belfast to escape their wrath for his thefts. The real bomber in particular is a bloodthirsty thug who committed many more bombings and murders before he was finally captured.
  • Hypocritical Humor: At the Commune, Gerry and Paul pretend to both be vegetarians when the other hippies discover sausages and bacon in Gerry's suitcase, claiming it's just for Gerry's aunt. In the next scene, Gerry and Paul are eating said sausages at Gerry's aunt Annie's house.
  • I Have Your Wife: What finally breaks Gerry and makes him sign the confession is one detective claiming he'll shoot his father, acting like he's crazy enough to really do this.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Police tortured them into confessing, though doing so in ways that wouldn't leave any marks.
  • Jerkass:
    • The detectives who brutally interrogate the Guildford Four are (aside from Dixon) unrelenting assholes (not surprising given they believe they're terrorists).
    • Deptford Jim also applies. He has a go at Gerry and Paul, blaming them for the bombings. Jim later willingly talks to the police, implicating Paul Hill and the Conlons out of spite (possibly more than that; see Green-Eyed Monster above), thus putting the disastrous events of the film into motion (in reality the source who caused their arrest is unknown).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gerry Conlon. He may be a thief, but he deeply loves his family. Plus, Gerry helped to save a prison guard's life during a brutal attack by fellow inmates.
  • Kangaroo Court: The judge in the Guildford Four's trial was openly biased against them, and the jury probably was too what with the climate at the time. At the sentencing the judge lamented the fact that Gerry Conlon hadn't also been charged with treason, which still carried the death sentence, and thus he couldn't be hanged. Of course, the police had framed them to begin with by forced confessions.
  • Karma Houdini: In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, it's stated three of the detectives who framed the Guildford Four were tried for perverting the course of justice in 1993, but acquitted. Sadly, that's Truth in Television. The real bombers were also never charged, despite their confessions, and were released under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement after 21 years in prison for other crimes. It's unknown who had originally implicated Paul Hill (which led to his arrest and the others') but they also were never punished.
  • Long List: Joe McAndrew's many convictions, listed when he meets several senior police officers, with several bombings, murders or attempted murders each. He then adds to this by confessing he'd also committed the Guildford pub bombings, which the protagonists were wrongly convicted of.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: The Guildford Four and Maguire Seven are convicted of the pub bombings despite having no involvement.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At least one of the detectives feels bad about torturing Gerry Conlon when the actual suspect confesses to the Guildford pub bombings during his interrogation. Needless to say, Inspector Dixon is unmoved, but the Belfast detective clearly shows guilt.
  • Precision F-Strike: Giuseppe is for most of the film a mild-mannered man who simply listens to his son's constant swearing. But just before his death Giuseppe argues with Gerry and says: "How can I say a thing without you fucking contradicting me all the time?"
  • Rabid Cop: The policemen who arrest and interrogate Gerry are absurdly, insanely cruel in their technique, including threatening to shoot Gerry and everybody he loves unless he confesses.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Gerry knows full well that his dad Giuseppe isn't happy with his life of petty theft and doing drugs. While at first he doesn't much care and disrespects Giuseppe, after they're imprisoned together Gerry starts to feel bad over his past. He comes to see that Giuseppe isn't a weak failure like he'd thought, but far stronger than him in fact (despite being physically frail). Gerry slowly comes to gain new respect for his father, and they grow much closer than before. Sadly, after this Giuseppe dies, but it helps to give Gerry zeal for proving their innocence in time.
  • Western Terrorists: The Irish Republican Army's acts spark the plot of the film. As Gerry explains early on, back in 1974 the IRA were bombing targets on the British mainland. Pubs soldiers' frequented in Guildford, England, were among them. These caused outrage by the British public, and the police had tremendous pressure to find the culprits. Their overzealousness, with a new law which allowed detention of terrorist suspects without charge for seven days, results in the protagonists being coerced into falsely confessing to having done it.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: One is given at the end of the film, relating what happened with the main characters in the story.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Joe defends his actions to Giuseppe by saying that it was a military target he had bombed, a soldier's pub. Of course, a lot of other people went to there besides soldiers. Giuseppe doesn't accept this for a minute in any case.


Video Example(s):


Giuseppe is Dead

Prisoners mourn the death of Giuseppe Conlon, who died in prison for a crime the authorities knew he didn't commit.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DueToTheDead

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