chapter  10
22 Pages

Northern Ireland

In Neil Jordan’s Angel an artist, in this case, a saxophone player, is drawn into the violent conflict that has become known as the Troubles. Danny (Stephen Rea) witnesses the death of a young mute woman to whom he has just made love when the dance hall he has been playing in is blown up by unidentified paramilitaries in a dispute over protection money. With just one clue, that one of the men involved wears an orthopaedic shoe, he sets outs to avenge her death. The dance hall is named the Dreamland and the further Danny goes on his quest, the more it seems that he is leaving his previous quotidian existence behind him and entering a metaphysical dream world, signalled in the film through the use of night time colours, and coincidental occurrences. The film never identifies the paramilitaries or makes it clear whether their allegiance is to republicanism or loyalism – all, it is suggested, are the same. In one particularly oneiric sequence, the band performs in a mental hospital; as the notes of the saxophone are first heard, the inmates silently move into the room in which Danny is playing, gradually filling it; in another, close to the film’s ending, a crowd gathers to witness the laying on of hands by the ‘seventh son of a seventh son’, a child blessed with supernatural gifts. Just as he will later do in Company of Wolves (GB, 1984) and In Dreams (USA, 1999), Jordan invites the viewer to abandon the rational world and enter, with his protagonists, a dream that will soon descend into nightmare, one peopled by psychic children, regretful killers and unexpected agents of retribution.