Jim Sheridan


Life
1949- ; b. 6 Feb. Dublin; son of railway worker who worked in local theatre as actor and director; br. of Peter Sheridan; ed. Christian Brothers and UCD; worked with Lyric Th., Belfast, The Abbey Th. , Dublin, and 7:84 Th. Company; with Neil Jordan, co-wrote Journal of a Hole (1971); appt. Project Arts Centre Dir., 1977; wrote and issued Mobile Homes (Dublin: Co-Op Books 1978), a play; also filmscript of My Left Foot (1989), from the autobiography by Christy Brown, filmed with Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker (both winning Academy awards); dir. The Field (by J. B. Keane), with Richard Harris, counted less successful; appt. director of New York Irish Arts Centre in the 1980s; wrote Into the West (1992), a romance of a tower-block boy and a horse; dir. In the Name of the Father (1993), a story of unjust imprisonment based on story of Guildford Four, with Day-Lewis, which received 13 Academy nominations; screen-play written in collaboration with Terry George and soundtrack in part by Bono; wrote and Some Mother's Son, again with Terry George (1996);
 
appeared as Swift in Mary McGuckian’s film of Words upon the Window Pane (1995), premiered in Ireland, Feb. 1996; produced Some Mother’s Son (dir. Terry George 1996), premiered at Cannes, May 1996, dealing with the 1981 IRA Hungerstrikes, with Helen Mirren and Fionnula Flanagan; dir. The Boxer (1997), co-written with Terrry George, and with Day-Lewis in the lead, a film attacked as an incitement to violence and defended by Lelia Doolin, et al.; Agnes Brown (1999); continued political themes with Borstal Boy (2000); On the Edge (2001), and Bloody Sunday (2002); dir. In America (2003), based on his own experience in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen; dir. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005), based on career of rap star 50 Cent; m., with three dgs., Naomi, Kirstin and Tess; lives at Colliemore[Dalkey] , Ballsbridge and Los Angeles; released Brothers, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, with a soundtrack by Bono and the Edge.

[ top ]

Works
Mobile Homes (Dublin: Co-op Books [1978]); with Shane Connaughton, Leave the Fighting to McGuigan: The Official Biography of Barry McGuigan (London: Viking Press 1985); My Left Foot [Faber film script series] (London: Faber & Faber 1989).

[ top ]

Criticism
Ruth Barton, Jim Sheridan: Framing the Nation (Dublin: Liffey Press 2002), 175pp.; Conor McCarthy, Modernisation, Crisis and Culture in Ireland, 1969-1992 (Four Courts Press 2000), pp.170-72 [infra]; Declan Burke, ‘Change of Direction’ [profile of Jim Sheridan], in The Irish Times (23 Jan. 2010), Weekend, p.7.

[ top ]

Commentary
Anthony O’Keeffe
, review of Some Mother’s Son in Fortnight (Oct. 1996) and condemns it for failure to exploit ‘language of cinema’, producing instead ‘another drab, grey, static, colourless, narrative-driven and oh-so-realistic, Irish film’. (p.28)

[ top ]

Conor McCarthy, Modernisation, Crisis and Culture in Ireland, 1969-1992 (Four Courts Press 2000), characterises Jim Sheridan’s film My Left Foot as ‘almost Victorian in its sentimentality’: ‘It portrays the progress of this man from his [170] mother’s kitchen floor, where he reveals his ability to write, to the street outside, where the “lads” incorporate him into their football games, to his hospital therapy, and eventually to the launch of his autobiography in the home of a member of the Ascendancy, where in the company of the philanthropic “great and good”, he gains pleasing bourgeois acceptance. This progress is mirrored by his increasing spatial freedom and mobility, as he moves from the claustrophic confines of his parents’ terraced house to, at the end of the film, announcement of his engagement atop Killiney Hill in south Dublin, with panoramic views of the sea and the city suggesting the final delightful freedom from the ghetto and his social class that the hero has attained. [... A]chieved through an aesthetic “transcendent” conception of artistic activity, and, paradoxically, his disability, which has served to bring his innate humanity into greater relief.’ (pp.170-71.) See further remarks on The Field, based on a play of J. B. Keane (1965) set in the 1950s, which Sheridan thrusts back to the 1930s, exchanging the North Kerry landscape for the more dramatic landscape of Galway/Mayo while excising an array of references to the accoutrements of modern life and to modern technology in the play, which made explicit the play’s context in a modernising society.’

[ top ]

Luke Clancy, ‘“Get Rich or Die Tryin”: Why rap stars can’t spell and property developers don’t need to’, in Alabama Chrome, ed. John Hutchinson, et al. (Dublin: Douglas Hyde Gallery 2006): ‘Why rap stars can’t spell and property developers don’t need to.’ ‘50 Cent is a rap star from Queens, New York. [] Jim Sheridan is from Sherriff Street, Dublin. He spent his formative years making theatre in Dublin , before exploiting his talents for dramatic storytelling by becoming a film director. Despite directing In the Name of the Father, he does not regularly wear a bullet-proof jacket. / In 2005, Jim Sheridan directed the film, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (its title borrowed from the rapper’s 2003 album) a “fictionalized” 50 Cent biopic in which the rap star played himself. / It is somebody else’s business to examine why a black director was not chosen for the film. But the climate that made an Irish director acceptable for the job seems worth sampling. This is a climate in which it is assumed, perhaps, that Irish experience and Black American experience are so closely analogous as to be interchangeable. The assumption seems almost Marxist, in one sense: for the choice allows that underclass experience (as endured by Irish immigrants in the United States , at least some generations ago) is a better indication of solidarity than race or nationality. In another sense, however, it would not be a strain to argue that there is a certain inherent racial - and indeed social - prejudice in assuming any connection whatsoever. / In either case, the existence of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ makes clear that “Irish” in some useful sense can be marketed as “authentically” disenfranchised, as the manoeuvre successfully heads off at the pass any suggestion that a film supposedly dealing with black, ghetto experience (once more, somebody else will have to examine the implication of another film that chronicles American black experience as synonymous with criminality) should he directed by a middle-aged white male. [...]’ (For full text, see infra.)

[ top ]

Notes
Derek Mahon cites Jim Sheridan as director of New York Irish Arts Centre in the 1980s in his column from New York (Irish Times, May 1993).

[ top ]

Martha’s Vineyard, Sheridan’s house at Colliemore Harbour, Co. Dublin, was designed by architects DeBlacam and Meagher. The original Victorian cottage purchased before demolition for €1.3 in the late 1990s; the main block of the present house with its limestone-clad entrance and full glass wall facing the sea has an adjoining graveled garden with stainless steel railings allowing passers-by an uninterrupted view of the island; incls. a terrace overlooking the tidal swimming-pool and slipway; sauna room with view of island; offered at €8 in 2007. (See The Irish Times, 13 April 2007, Property, p.1 [feature]).

[ top ]