Here is the explanation behind the story of the movie “The Banshees of Inisherin”. In this film we follow the torments of Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell), the main character, who is abandoned by his former friend Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson). He is followed by Dominic Kearney (Barry Keoghan), an idle young man beaten by his father. He lives with his sister Siobhán Súilleabháin (Kerry Condon).
Please note that the following contains spoilers. There are two interesting analyses, that at human level, and that at the level of humanity.
The story of a man during an identity crisis:
Dominic, Pádraic and Colm are one and the same person, during different phases of his life. At the beginning this person is beaten by his father, and sinks into alcohol, looking for lifelines, using a fishing pole with a hook. The character is prey to depression, despair; he has moments of clairvoyance; he has difficulty communicating, speaking without filter, too directly. Dominic represents innocence; he is attracted by goodness.
Then this person grows up, and takes refuge with his mother (represented by his sister) who is the most lucid person in the film (along with the elderly woman), as well as domestic animals. At this point in his life, he is very down to earth, time has dulled him. He is more of an animal than a human. While talking with Dominic, Pádraic remembers his stormy past, which quickly leads him towards alcohol. When he drinks, he loses sense of things very quickly, and that's when he makes mistakes. He still suffers from a form of depression which makes him amorphous. Pádraic represents the animal part of this person.
Colm personifies the last phase of this person. He tries to turn the page on the past in order to grow, to emancipate himself. He rejects Pádraic who represents his depression, his alcoholism and his loneliness. But for this, he must make sacrifices (physical mutilation). He seems to be pleasantly surprised when he sees Pádraic trying to analyze the situation and making an effort to understand what is happening and why they got to this point. Colm remains suffering from a form of deep depression, with self-flagellation. He is accompanied by a border collie dog, which shows that he has the impression or desire to be a shepherd for society, he wants to show his best qualities to the world by trying to become an artist.
The elderly woman, Mrs. McCormick, is a banshee (mythological creature which announces the death of a family member). She announces, like a prophet, the changes to come in the course of this man's history. With pivot points. When Colm swings his fingers on the door of Pádraic's house, he creates a chain reaction in his inner being. His fingers represent a personal sacrifice to reach a certain maturity, a sacrifice that is much deeper than expected. The donkey eats the fingers and dies. The donkey was the tender part of Pádraic. The latter then goes from laziness to anger and attacks Colm directly. Meanwhile Dominic realized that there was in fact no goodness left in Pádraic. He is abandoned by his mother (Pádraic's sister), he realizes that there is no more hope and love and dies in the lake. This shows that Pádraic's innocence disappears at this point, making it easier for him to become angry. With the donkey dying, Pádraic moves away from his animal side to get closer to that of man.
At the end, we don't know if the main character has finally found peace with himself. By preserving the dog, the character preserves friendship (the link with his deep being). The film tries to explore the path that leads to cynicism, with a human who wants at all costs to show his qualities, while seeking to annihilate several parts of his humanity.
The story of a people during a civil war:
It is also the story of a people who find themselves in a civil war. The policeman represents the authority that oppresses the people. Colm represents the party creating the conflict. Pádraic tries to understand why his friend is committing this aggression, he is diplomatic and tries to negotiate. Colm turns a deaf ear and decides to escalate the altercation by sacrificing his own limbs. Siobhán is the most lucid part of the people, she tries to work things out but seeing that the situation is degenerating, she prefers to leave. Pádraic prays that Siobhán (sanity) will return at some point. Dominic represents the youth who are the first victims of this discord. Colm will do anything to feed his own pride and greed (in the search for glory), ignoring the consequences of his actions. Mrs. McCormick personifies death, she patiently waits for time to do its work. The tavern owner symbolizes the rest of the world who witnesses the clash but does not interfere.
Only Siobhán, fleeing the conflict, ends up finding happiness and what she wanted by working in a bookstore.
We can also draw a parallel with the evolution of humanity. At the beginning, we were archaic, ignorant, we acted like a bully, without thinking about the consequences of our actions. Later, we became more reasonable, peaceful, while maintaining a certain stupidity, and we needed the presence of God (Siobhan). Later, we lost God, but we became emancipated through art and we always seek to grow.
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