Finn (cough) MacCool versus Ming The Merciless
Because I tend to focus predominantly on culturally accurate Irish ‘mythology’, I come across a lot of examples where that mythology ends up being misrepresented or manipulated into something it’s not. This is what we find with the following teaser trailer for a film called “Finn MacCool” (sadly, despite the character’s Gaelic origins, the Gaelic name wasn’t used).
As far as I can tell, the trailer is a promotional piece because the film was never made. This happens sometimes when a movie’s being proposed and talked-up but no funding’s obtained to complete it. Either way, though, you have to give the producers credit for using Irish actors (or at least someone who can successfully put on an Irish accent – not looking at you, Tom Cruise and Christopher Walken!) although the Ming the Merciless character who plays … actually, I’m not entirely sure who he’s meant to be, does seem a bit miscast. Having such a strong Dublin accent several centuries before Dublin ever came into being, well….
It’s easy – and probably unfair – to mock the trailer as it obviously had a tiny budget and it’s very much a product of its time (I had thought it dated from the seventies or eighties but it was actually prodcued in 2004/2005). The limited budget probably led to the strange hair-dos and dodgy special effects, although the scale of the battle scene is quite impressive. The latter is marred somewhat however, by the way the people who get killed spin off in a pirouette (twirling off to the ground with an enthusiasm they clearly didn’t have when they were fighting). In some ways, it looks as though the battle scenes were choreographed by Ballet Ireland!
It’s harder to be forgiving about the plot however, which seems to involve
Fionn – sorry, Finn – fighting Vikings (who didn’t turn up in Ireland for another 700-800 years after the time period which the Fenian Cycle is usually associated with).
I used to be more cynical but, over the years, I’m actually grown fonder of this piece of this piece film as it’s a useful reminder of how people saw the whole Fenian Cycle twenty years ago, how insecure we were in terms of our own culture and how easily we were influenced in our attempts to adapt our stories to monkey overseas productions. At the same time, I also have to give credit where credit is due, in that at least the producers attempted a more Irish production of our greatest mythological hero.
There was a rumour going around some years ago about a movie on Cú Chulainn being developed by Michael Fassbender however that now seems to be languishing in “development hell”. Maybe one day however, we’ll have something to compare with this trailer!