Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Ireland, 1584: 'In the aftermath of a cattle-raid into enemy territory two Gaelic-Irish warriors - a light infantry kern and a mailed galloglass - are despatched to comb the woods for stragglers...'
The primary thinking behind Claíomh making this short film was to showcase the potential of museum-quality archaeological reproductions when utilised with modern media - in this case relating to 16th century Gaelic-Ireland when native Irish traditions were at their zenith. Set against an environment of what was the most commonly pursued 'sport' at the time i.e. cattle-raiding, and while promoting awareness of an archaeologically accurate portrayal of the visual appearance of Late Medieval Gaelic warriors - the production also lightly touches upon the complicated political situation in Ireland at the time.
As a zero-budget pilot 'The Last Grasp' was shot within a couple of hours on entirely a voluntary basis with the aim to make vividly assessable this fascinating and rich depository of Irish heritage to a wider audience beyond the conventional confines of academia.
Claíomh regards film as a forum into which latest archaeological and historical research can be utilised to harness a realistic graphic to provide a window into Ireland's history and in so doing to create an artistic whole. As short films, 'The Last Grasp' as well as our 1640's themed 'The Flag', represent proto-steps in what is hoped will be a long journey of discovery in the medium.
Reconstructed artefacts featured in this film include swords from Co Offaly (Ballylin) and Co Galway (one each from the River Corrib -- near Galway City - and the River Suck -- near Ballinasloe), and a 'sparth' axe from Co Tyrone (River Blackwater, Clonteevy). The sets of clothing worn by the characters are copied from contemporary illustrations such as the anonymous 'Drawn on the quick' (c.1544) kept in the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford and Albrecht Dürer's 'Thus go the soldiers of Ireland, beyond England...' (1521) at the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen in Berlin.
The film was shot in Ireland in Autumn 2010 by members of Claíomh with the invaluable assistance of Josh Plunkett, Alan Mac Úa hAlpine, and Rob Hunt. The primeval soundtrack was specially composed and performed by Brian Conniffe. It's first appearance was at the Experimental Cinema of the Hunter Moon Fest in Carrick-on-Shannon in October 2011.