Posts Tagged Belfast

Battle of the Bone (2008)

Battle_of_the_Bone_DVD_coverWritten, directed and produced by George Clarke

Certificate:18. Run time: 90 minutes.

Billed as Northern Ireland’s first kung fu/zombie film, George Clarke has achieved nothing short of a miracle with this fast-paced tale of three friends battling against sectarian thugs and drug-crazed zombies. Owing much to the work of George A Romero and Japanese gore-fest movies, Battle of the Bone was shot on a micro-budget of just £10,000. Despite this, Clarke managed to get a cameo role from popular UTV newsreader Pamela Ballentine playing herself. Most of the shooting of this film was done on location, so virtually no money was spent on expensive sets. Action takes place in the open air, a pedestrian subway, a grain silo and a paper warehouse in the docklands, a city centre multi-storey car park and shopping mall, and culminates on the steps of an inner city church.

The story takes place in Belfast on the Twelfth of July as three friends; David, Scott and Jill, try to get back home to East Belfast in the aftermath of a huge inter-communal riot. All the river bridges are blocked by burning cars except for a pedestrian bridge guarded by a bunch of thugs. David falls foul of these guys and finds himself and his two friends running and fighting for his life though the city docklands.

In the meantime, an accidental spillage of a new drug has turned the staff and inmates of the local mental hospital into crazed zombies. These create havoc as they attack loyalist bandsmen in their practice hall, Twelfth revellers waiting at ‘the field’ to see the bands and a courting couple in the Botanic Gardens.

The three friends think they’re safe having eluded the thugs from ‘the other side’ only to run into a greater danger; the zombie hordes pouring into the city centre.

Battle of the Bone is fast-moving with a pulsating soundtrack that really moves the action along. There’s genuine tension at times, but it’s also a lot of fun with plenty of over-the-top fake blood and gore. It’s obvious that the young inexperienced cast had a ball making this frenetic film.

The last couple of minutes are a wee bit lame but not enough to spoil the fun. The best scene is where two doctors in the ‘nuthouse’ lark about singing and playing the piano totally unaware of the frenzied zombies menacing them. It’s great stuff.

George Clarke has come up with what ought to be a genre classic. If he can do such a fine job with this kind of a budget, what will he be able to do in future efforts with a bigger budget? Things look promising for him and his Yellow Fever Productions.

The DVD bundles an interesting documentary showing how the film was made, a number of deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer with the main feature.

Reviewed by David Kerr

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Ships & Quaysides of Ulster – Historic Maritime Photographs

Ships & Quaysides of Ulster – Historic Maritime Photographs
By Robert Anderson and Ian Wilson.

Friar’s Bush Press, Belfast 1990. ISBN 0 946872 32 5

 

Click on image to buy book

DEDICATED to the seafarers of Ulster, past and present, this is a real gem of a book. Although it’s not much larger than an average postcard in size, it contains around a hundred fantastic black and white photographs taken roughly between 1890 – 1940. Each photograph has a title and a brief explanation of the subject matter. There’s also lots of information about Ulster’s maritime heritage and tradition.

 

The excellent introduction explains the importance of the sea to Ulster and gives an overview of the book itself. I liked the way the authors placed our nation’s dependence on the sea in a historical context:

“Ireland is an island on the extreme edge of Europe and sea routes have always connected it with the wider world, whether to bring successive waves of conquerors, to offer a new horizon to emigrants, or simply to handle the permanent needs for import and export.

In whatever century, the great Atlantic tides surge in round the rocky northern coast of Ulster, round the bleak islands of Tory, Innistrahull and Rathlin. Fair Head too, looms dominant today over the seafarer as it has stood over Neolithic man carrying Antrim porcellanite for good axeheads, over Irish monks journeying to sacred Iona, over Viking longships intent on plunder and on down through the generations to the sleek warships and submarines playing cat-and-mouse in twentieth century wars. The coast of Ulster from Carlingford Lough to Donegal Bay is today largely unspoiled and unaltered and a landfall made by a Norse invader bound for ‘Strang fjord’ would have been judged similarly by a Skillen or McClurg of Killyleagh, bringing their schooners into Strangford Lough early in the present century, 1200 years on”.

Each chapter of this book has a small introductory feature, which is then followed by dozens of evocative photographs. For instance, the first chapter is entitled The Major Ports and it looks at Belfast, Larne and Londonderry. There’s a brief overview of these three ports, followed by 15 pages of pictures. All of the pictures are interesting – some are absolutely fascinating. I particularly liked the ones that showed original sailing vessels alongside huge and powerful new steamers. Interestingly, Belfast’s history as a port began in 1637 when a sum of £3000 was paid to Carrickfergus for its maritime rights and customs.

Other chapters include The Minor Ports, The Small Piers, Quays, Wrecks and Events and Ships of Ulster. In The Minor Ports, it’s noted that Carrickfergus has its maritime origins in Norman times. Readers should look out for the brilliant picture of Carrick on page 29. Taken around 1900, Carrickfergus Castle and St Nicholas’ Church (Church of Ireland) dominate the skyline. It’s also interesting to note that the mast of ship appears beyond the harbour wall closest to the shore. Was there an inner harbour at one time?

There are plenty of outstanding photographs throughout the book. Other favourites have to be Naval Visit to Bangor Bay (c 1910) on page 59 – which also shows the Pickie Pool! – that of the Star of Italy on page 74 and one of the Titanic on page 88. For me, there’s something ‘atmospheric’ about these old black and white photographs – a timeless quality that sometimes isn’t evident in colour photos.

I don’t really have any connection to the sea whatsoever, but Ships & Quaysides of Ulster was really captivating. It made me realise that Ulster’s tradition of seafaring is out of all proportion to its size.

Reviewed by John Jenkins

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