A scandalous twist got people talking about moody thriller The Crying Game in 1992. Stephen Rea stars as an IRA terrorist who gets more than he bargained for when he meets the alluring Dil (Jaye Davidson) - a complex emotional tangle which earned both actors Oscar nominations. Neil Jordan missed out on the gong for Best Director but he did walk away with kudos for Best Original Screenplay.
Blood, Sweat And Tears
As Neil Jordan tells it in the Irish Luck featurette, The Crying Game would have been his first film after an acclaimed career as a short story writer. However, there was 'something missing’ in the script that kept it on the backburner for a decade. Producer Stephen Woolley and Stephen Rea recall a stirring sense of excitement when Jordan finally figured out the twist that unlocked the rest of the story. Sadly, as recounted in English Love, this feeling was quickly dampened by priggish financiers. Woolley says he took the script to countless moneymen who "pushed it back across the table like they might get infected with something."
Woolley and co. tell a great story of triumph against the odds as financial pressures continued into production and were then exacerbated by the need to shoot an alternative ending. Executives were still nervous about Jordan’s storytelling although they rejected the new version of the final scene after forcing him to shoot it. That 'happy ending’ is presented here in a rough VHS format and an optional commentary by Jordan who freely admits: "I wrote it without any conviction whatsoever."
Playing The Game
At the distribution end, Bob and Harvey Weinstein are painted as heroes in The Marketing Of An American Independent. "Bob could see the exploitation value of The Crying Game," says Woolley, referring to 'the secret’ that was much hyped without being revealed in a delicate publicity campaign. "Harvey," he adds, "could see that it was a good movie."
Discussing The Crying Game reflects on other issues in the story such as the activities of the IRA. While impressed by the level of realism, in terms of the showing the inner workings of a terrorist organisation, former IRA prisoner-turned-writer Danny Morrison remains unhappy with a film that he says robs the terrorists of their "humanity". Catholic journalist Malachi O’Dogherty represents the other side of the argument in this provocative featurette.
Jordan covers a lot of ground in his commentary for the main feature. He talks about the techniques and logistics of putting scenes together, explaining that he used cinemascope not to capture sweeping landscapes but to "hold the interplay between characters without the constant cutting." That was especially important in early scenes between Fergus (Rea) and Jody (Forest Whitaker). Of course, as a writer, he also goes into subtext of the story and reveals influences as obscure as Nicholas Ray’s noir thriller They Live By Night (1948). There’s even a brief discussion of the state of the Irish Film Industry in the late 80s and early 90s, when pals including Jim Sheridan were still toiling in theatre.
Key players like Miranda Richardson, Forest Whitaker and Jaye Davidson are curiously absent in all the featurettes and there’s no direct behind-the-scenes access. Still, there’s plenty of background info and a heady dose of nostalgia to get fans misty-eyed over this Special Edition release.