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The Hanging Gale

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Donegal 1846. The four upstanding sons of the Phelan family two farmers, a schoolteacher, and a priest are torn between nonviolent protest and bloody revolt when the injustices of the landholding system and the onset of the potato blight combine to devastate their community. Though his predecessor was murdered, the new land manager, Captain Townsend (Michael Kitchen), upholds the law while appealing to the absentee landowner for reasonable accommodation for the suffering tenants. Three of the Phelan sons try to work with Captain Townsend, but one takes the law into his own hands, setting off a chain of events that tests the brothers love for their country and each other.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE production notes, photo gallery, and cast filmographies.


Special Features

  • Production notes
  • Photo gallery
  • Cast filmographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Kitchen, Joe McGann, Mark McGann, Paul McGann, Stephen McGann
  • Directors: Diarmuid Lawrence
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: ACORN MEDIA
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 205 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CEV3MS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,993 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Hanging Gale" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Tiggah on May 5, 2006
Format: DVD
Set in County Donegal, Ireland, just prior to and during the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, The Hanging Gale is a powerful and emotionally charged, not to mention insightful and informative, account of one family's struggle to survive the devastation--a situation made only worse by the cruel and unbending governance by the British.

The series stars the four McGann brothers as the four Phelan brothers. Brother Liam (Paul McGann--Withnail and I, Horatio Hornblower, Fish) is a Catholic priest, a man whose faith is sorely tried throughout the family's ordeal; while Daniel (Stephen McGann), a passionate and angry young man with a dangerous secret, is a school teacher. Brothers Sean (Joe McGann) and Conor (Mark McGann--The Grand) live and work with their father on the family farm, along with Sean's wife, Maeve, and their small children. The Phelan's holding is a small one and is one of many let by Lord Hawksborough, a highly unsympathetic, avaricious absentee British landowner--a man whom we never see, but whose presence (not to mention iron will) is represented by his agent.

The series opens with the murder of the agent by a radical and dangerous group of Irish vigilantes. Enter Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War) as Captain Townsend, the new agent. Townsend is appalled by what he sees and is sympathetic to the plight of the Irish tenants, but he is not the landowner. His duty is to his Lordship--to manage the property and collect the rents on his Lordship's behalf. Apart from writing to his master to inform him of the situation and to make requests on behalf of the tenants, there is little that Townsend is able to do.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By GEORGE RANNIE on September 17, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Until viewing this superb albeit very dark and bloody BBC presentation of "Hanging Gale", I had NO idea of the plight of the Irish in the mid-1800s. This presentation dwells primarily on the struggles of the Phelan family and mainly about the four brothers as played wonderfully by real life brothers, Paul, Stephen, Joe and Mark McGann--who are very rugged and very handsome; with one brother being a rather emtionally torn priest and all of them prone to violence and not above committing murder. The brothers are trying to deal with the devastation of poverty, starvation, crop failure, etc. (along with some of the dreariest weather that I've ever seen on film) that is happening to their family and friends and, of course, that meant dealing with Captain Townsend as played greatly by Michael Kitchen who is a rather "mild-mannered" agent for the absent and without a clue land owner. This 2 disc (two episodes on each disc) mini-series is greatly acted and directed. I certainly now have more knowledge and understanding of what happened to the Irish during the time being depicted.

Be advised that this is no cushy "Hallmark" presentation. It is a very harsh and realistic presentation that never lets up from its depiction of some very grim times. If you love good drama that will leave you weak in the knees from emotional exhaustion, buy these DVDs.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By British History Buff on July 22, 2010
Format: DVD
Watched this once and threatened to donate the DVD. Found that I could not due to the haunting nature of the people being portrayed. Unlike another viewer, I was and am somewhat knowledgeable about how the Irish were/are abused by England. Land taken and handed over to the English; Irish landholders made into indentured-like workers on what had been their own land; starvation; poverty; etc. Your sensibilities are assaulted at the unfairness of it all. And the Michael Kitchen character struggles with his own sensibilities in his role as an Englishman.

But bringing history into DVD in a dark photography mode with the highly talended and respected Michael Kitchen, well that really gets you over and over. I am preparing to watch this again, because some form of reality needs to be remembered or I am just anxious to revisit angst. The watching is not comfortable any more than clearly understanding the why or the how of the indominable Irish.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on October 30, 2010
Format: DVD
EXCELLENCE in cast, writing, music, location, and historical truth. This could be called a documentary/fiction. I visited Ireland and did some research into "The Great Hunger", or potato famine, and this is spot on. You have to read Irish publications to get truth. I'm absolutely amazed the BBC allowed this. Irish people still are shy in talking about the famine event.

This story focuses on the accounts of a family of 4 boys, the Phelans, and their struggle during the famine years. The story idea was originated with 2 of the 4 McGann brothers that played the 4 Phelan brother roles. In their struggle, the absent landowner sends an agent, Capt. Townsend (wow! played by Michael Kitchen, doing as super as he has done with Foyle's War). Those McGann brothers were equally good in their portrayals as Kitchen was as the man caught between duty and desire to help the poor. There is suspense, mystery, action... and beauty amid the wretchedness.

Having been all over Co. Donegal, Ireland (the origin of my ancestors) I can attest that this footage taken there is exactly how most of the country looks. The wild countryside yet exists. The music by Shaun Davey, placed behind the perfection of acting, costumes (some just like old photographs and written first-hand accounts of the famine years)...well the music is as enthralling as the story. A must see for any Irish, history, & Kitchen fans.

1: Begins in may, 1846, Co. Donegal, and a new land agent replaces a murdered man. He soon finds deplorable conditions for tenants of the estate and a desperate Irish poor. While trying to seize animals in loo of back rent, a farmer is shot. Just as harvest time arrives so does the potato blight.
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