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The Secret of Roan Inish (1995)

Jeni Courtney , Eileen Colgan , John Sayles  |  PG |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeni Courtney, Eileen Colgan, Mick Lally, Pat Slowey, Dave Duffy
  • Directors: John Sayles
  • Writers: John Sayles, Rosalie K. Fry
  • Producers: Glenn R. Jones, John Sloss, Maggie Renzi, Peter Newman, R. Paul Miller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004TJKJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Secret of Roan Inish" on IMDb

Special Features

Digitally Mastered Audio & Anamorphic Video
Director's Commentary
Theatrical Trailers
Talent Files
Scene Selections

Editorial Reviews

Ten-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village in Donegal, Ireland. She soon learns the local legend that an ancestor of hers married a selkie -- a seal who can turn into a human. Years earlier, her baby brother washed out to sea in a cradle, and some think that he is being raised by the seals. Then Fiona catches sight of a naked little boy on the abandoned isle of Roan Inish and takes a more active role in uncovering the mysteries which abound.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
255 of 279 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars splendid old-fashioned movie experience September 30, 2002
Format:DVD
Given his notorious reputation for cranking out the most politically-correct of films, it's a really pleasant surprise to watch this profoundly conservative effort by John Sayles. Based on a 1959 novel by Rosalie Fry, Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry, Sayles' Roan Inish tells the story of a young girl, Fiona, who when her mother dies is sent to live with her grandparents on the Irish coast in the years immediately after WWII. The family had long lived on the island of Roan Inish, in the company of seals, but they were relocated to Donegal during the war and now may have to move again, further inland. There's an ineffable sadness about the old couple, the grandfather especially misses the island and mourns the lost way of life they enjoyed; the grandmother misses Fiona's brother, Jamie, who was swept out to sea in a wooden cradle when they were moving off of Roan Inish. Fiona though is convinced that her baby brother still lives and, indeed, her cousin Eamon tells her that he's been sighted sailing around in his cradle boat.
Fiona's grandfather and cousins are only too happy to tell her tales about the family and Roan Inish, maintaining their strong ties to the island at least in memory and recitation. Finally, one cousin, Tadhg--a "dark one" (dark of hair and eye like her brother was)--tells the story of how an ancestor captured a selkie, a seal-woman. The selkies are said to swim ashore in seal form and then strip off their skins to bask in the sun as beautiful women, but if you can grab their skin before they slip away they are bound to you. The family then is descended from this selkie, though one of her children eventually told her where to find the skin and she immediately swam off.
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89 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emerald Isles October 25, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
A beautiful story, that captures the selkie legend with a touch of innocence.

John Sayles adapted Rosalie Fry's 1959 novel: Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry (That now sells for three to five hundred dollars!) Haskell Wexler captured the rolling emerald pastureland, clusters of white thatched cottages and the mist rolling in from the sea on film so delightfully, you will find yourself longing to visit Ireland.

Green is the color of life, hope and joy. In this delightful story, Fiona is full of life, hopes to find her brother and experiences the joy of helping her family in their time of need.

Fiona (Jeni Courtney) loses her mother and younger brother and is sent to live with her grandparents on the Irish Coast. From the cottage she sees Roan Inish, an island where her family once lived. Filled with curiosity, she seeks every opportunity to explore the tiny island. Tales of seals that can change out of their skin and take on a perfect human form makes her even more curious. She feels a magical connection with one of the seals she sees while on a fishing boat.

The selkie in this story is a beautiful woman who marries a mortal, yet pines for the sea. She is trapped on land without her seal skin, which her husband has hidden. Ledgend has it that one of her children told her where the skin was hidden and she immediately put it on and returned to the sea, leaving her family, home and husband behind forever.

Fiona takes all the stories and finds she is experiencing some of the magic of the legend in her own trips to the Island of Roan Inish. Like all children, she still believes in magic and even though her grandparents don't believe she has seen her brother, Fiona has
faith that she has not seen a ghost.

A lovely story to teach children kindness to animals and that no matter what happens in life, someone is always looking out for them.

This is a rare treat!

~The Rebecca Review
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting January 20, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I liked John Sayles' "Lone Star" so much that I systematically began working my way through his other films. "The Secret of Roan Inish" stopped me dead in my tracks. A film like no other, haunting in its beauty, it has stayed with me ever since. It is a great film, creative and beautiful. Jeni Courtney, the child star is a delight, a refreshing breath of youth and honesty who puts her Hollywood counterparts to shame.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fairy Tale for All Ages August 1, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
John Sayles hit one out of the park with his The Secret of Roan Inish. This one is clearly for the child in all of us, whether we're 8, 18, or 80. This magical story reunites a family on a small Irish island with little more than a young girl's dream and some hard work by she and her cousin.
The lure of Ireland is hardly new, but the beauty of this sometimes difficult land shines through the foggy mist that permeates the film. It is the financial hardships the Irish have often faced that create the backdrop for this movie. Some may say Sayles has romanticized penury, when in reality he has simply shown what is most important to the human spirit - that hard work can sometimes make dreams come true, and that faith and magic are as important as tangible things. The delightful acting and strong characterizations bring the moody and mystical Irish coast to life.
Whether you are a fan of the selkie myth, Ireland, or are looking for a film that you, your children, and your parents can watch together, I heartily recommend this one.
TTFN, Laurie Likes Books
Publisher, All About Romance
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This film is a classical masterpiece!
Published 13 hours ago by R. R. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the breathtaking scenery
I adore the 'Secret of Roan Inish' for many reasons. I love the breathtaking scenery, I love the history, the music and the mystical legends of old. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Elizabeth E. Lombard
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Sweet Irish tale. Well-made.
Published 8 days ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars A keeper
Excellent ! This is a keeper. Share it with those you care for. A sweet tale .
Published 9 days ago by CaptainCat
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the best fairy tale ever
Loved this movie!!!
Published 10 days ago by Jazzyl
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great story!
This is one of my favorite movies. I fell in love with Ireland the minute I set foot on that lovely land, and would give a great deal to go back. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Penthemom
5.0 out of 5 stars I remember watching this on VHS as a kid and ...
I remember watching this on VHS as a kid and loving the story and hearing the accents. I just had to have it when I found it on DVD.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want a good St. Patrick's Day movie
This movie makes me want to go back to Ireland. If you want a good St. Patrick's Day movie, watch this. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Liz
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Nice family movie
Published 1 month ago by Robin P. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars An obscure but wonderful little movie
This is an obscure but wonderful little movie based on Rosalie Fry's book "Secret of the Ron Moor Skerry". Read more
Published 1 month ago by Leonard C Hayes
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special features?
The DVD I purchased has the commentary although I haven't listened to it yet. Since this post is over two years old, hopefully you've already received an answer elsewhere.
May 6, 2010 by Drew |  See all 4 posts
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