Into the West

Director: Mike Newell
Screenwriters: Jim Sheridan

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


The appeal of legends which invent worlds existing beyond out own mundane realm is universal. Directed by Nike Newell of Enchanted April, and written by Jim Sheridan, who put Ireland on the cinematic map with his Oscar-winning My Left Foot, Into the West is a modern fable which begins with the legend of just such faraway land and takes us on a stirring ride, literally and figuratively, across the spectacular countryside of wild western Ireland.

Gabriel Byrne plays a father who has rejected the ways of his gypsy-like clan, the “travelers,” to settle down miserably in the squalor of Dublin’s tenements with his young sons. When their grandfather appears one day with a magnificent white horse trailing behind him, the boys and the horse bond irrevocably. Unfortunately their plan for the horse in their apartment fails, setting in motion events by which the horse is taken from them and illegally sold to an unscrupulous breed of jumpers, for it is apparent that this magnificent stallion has unparalleled talent in this area, Their drunken father is no help at all, and the boys attempt a search on their own. When the boys finally regain the horse and ride off into the west, with the “posse” close behind, their quest for freedom takes on a new dimensions. Byrne rejoins his traveling friends in order to find them before the police forces can, and the chase is on.

The Irish American coproduction, on at least one level, pays mythic homage to the Old West since it filled with references and allusions which reemphasize the struggle which that world embodied. But the boys’ ride to the sea is much more than a simple chase. Their escapades as they avoid their pursuers are delightful and charming. And the final melodramatic rescue is a powerful moment leading to a heartwarming reunion. Wonderfully cinematic, this expressive tale is superbly directed by Newell, who extracts especially stunning performances from the young leads. Byrne is equally strong in a role which manages to avoid cliché. Irresistible and uplifting, this is evocative and compelling filmmaking, which will likely leave you feeling the way I did: sad to see it end.

World Premiere

Thursday, January 21 7:00 pm
Crossroads Cinemas

Friday, January 22 8:30 pm
Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City

Saturday, January 23 3:00 pm
Prospector Square Theatre

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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