Sent to live with her grandparents in a quaint coastal Irish town, 10-year-old Fiona (Jeni Courtney) is fascinated by the village's rich folk culture--especially the local myths about a half-human, half-seal creature known as a selkie. Fiona becomes convinced that her supposedly deceased little brother is living with the selkies, and she travels to the beautiful, enchanted island of Roan Inish, where her grandparents once lived, to confirm her suspicions.
Based on the book SECRET OF RON MOR SKERRY by Rosalie K. Fry, the film is the first John Sayles picture shot outside the United States. Although the magical realism of the film may seem like a departure for Sayles, who is known for gritty slice-of-life dramas, he has covered fantastic elements before (BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET), and has dealt extensively with the theme of returning to one's roots (BABY IT'S YOU, RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN, and PASSION FISH). The film will particularly appeal to children and adults who grew up listening to stories rather than watching them on television, and the special effects--including a magical transformation of a seal into a woman--are meant to replicate the imagination of a rural child unfamiliar with the excesses of mass media. With its gorgeous photography and perfectly paced storytelling, THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH stands as one of the finest folklore-based films ever made.
John Lynch - Actor/"Monkey Boy"
Cillian Byrne - Actress/"Secret Of Roan..
Maggie Renzi - Producer
Jeni Courtney - Actress/"Secret Of Roan
Mason Daring - Composer
John Sayles - Director/Writer/Producer
Mick Lally - Actor/"Secret Of Roan Ini
Richard Sheridan - Actor/"Secret Of Roan..."
Eileen Colgan - Actress/"Secret Of Roan
Sarah Green - Producer/ "The Secret of Roan Inish"
Adrian Smith - Production designer
Haskell Wexler - Cinematographer/Director/Producer/Screenwriter
Set on the remote west coast of Ireland, this gentle film follows the adventures of a little girl who's driven to explore the site where her little brother was swept out to sea years earlier and who may have been raised by seals. The film is a quiet, enchanting fairy tale from American director John Sayles.
THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH was shown at the 1994 San Francisco International Film Festival. Filmed on location in County Donegal, Ireland. Maggie Renzi, director John Sayles's longtime partner and producer, had read the story as a child. She brought the story to Sayles's attention, suggesting that there were not enough intelligent films for children. "The original story was set in Scotland, but I knew that myth from a similar Irish story. I'm much more versed in Irish literature and culture, so I knew I would only have to do half the research if I made it Irish."--Sayles to Kenneth M. Chanko of the Boston Globe (February 19, 1995) The film marks the first screen appearances of Jeni Courtney (Fiona), Richard Sheridan (Eamon), and Cillian Byrne (Jamie). When Sayles's crew first arrived in northwest coast of County Donegal in Ireland, they had to dispel a rumor that they were Mormons intent on stealing the town's children. For some of the flashback sequences, Sayles didn't use cuts or dissolves; instead, he panned to a different scene, so as to emphasize the connection between the past and the present. The film grossed $6.1 million domestically.
"...Casts its intoxicating spell slowly, exuding warmth like a crackling [fire]..." - Recommended - 12/01/1995 Premiere, p.122
"...Alive with beauty, spirit and wit, ROAN INISH is pure magic..." - 02/23/1995 Rolling Stone, p.81
"...The film is a pleasure to look at and listen to, graced with a lilting, folk-based musical score....[Sayles] draws strong, sinewy performances from his cast..." - 08/01/1996 Sight and Sound, p.63
"...The filmmaker's well-earned reputation for unpredictability definitely remains intact..." - 02/17/1995 USA Today, p.4D
"...[ROAN INISH is] as big as a thimble and as evanescent as Tinker Bell. You'll clap if you believe." -- Rating: B+ - 02/10/1995 Entertainment Weekly, p.44
"...Pleasant....[Courtney is] an attractive and convincingly resourceful heroine..." - 05/09/1994 Variety
"...A touching cinematic meditation on people, familial roots and the myths that sustain them..." - 02/03/1995 New York Times, p.C12
"...It is a crackling good tale with a sense of wonder and mystery strong enough to captivate any age group..." - 02/03/1995 Los Angeles Times, p.F1
"...John Sayles and Haskell Wexler, who has photographed the movie with great beauty and precision, have ennobled the material..." - 03/03/1995 Chicago Sun-Times, p.37