Dear Helen Mirren

Is this really the right time to make a Hollywood film about the republican hunger-striker Bobby Sands?

Have you not read the newspapers this week? Have you not seen that the Irish peace process is swaying precariously in the wind and that its negotiators are treading on more delicate eggshells than ever before? Do you not think that in these circumstances your decision to participate in a Hollywood film, A Mother's Son, about Bobby Sands, the 27-year-old IRA hunger striker who died as a martyr to the republican cause in 1980, is somewhat premature?

Sure, there is a line between drama and propaganda - but it is a very fine one. On one level I can see that the Bobby Sands tale makes wonderful celluloid. For a start, it gives Hollywood the rare opportunity to show the precarious side of hunger, starvation and getting thin - rather than the usual glamour shots of Cindy Crawford on an exercise bike. More seriously, as all of us sat glued to the news bulletins for 66 days in 1980 will remember, the real Bobby Sands saga had all the requisite elements of a tear-jerking blockbuster. He was a truly Byronic figure, no matter what side you were on. Anyone who believes strongly enough in a cause to die for it always evokes our pity and admiration on an Aristotelian scale. The feeling is that if this person had enough faith to die for his beliefs, what might he have achieved if he were still alive? Far more than you or I or the average coward on the street, that's for sure.

And yet, Ms Mirren, there's another, altogether less romantic side to this proposed film about Mr Sands, isn't there? One of the writers, Terry George, is a former member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, whose paramilitary wing murdered the British Tory MP Airey Neave. Mr George himself was jailed for six years in 1975 for possessing arms.

This does not of course mean that he is not a suitable scriptwriter for your film - he did a great job on In The Name Of The Father (even if the drama was somewhat removed from the facts) - but the difference between that film and your own is that the Guildford Four case, on which In The Name Of the Father was based, was well and truly over by the time filming happened.

The situation in Ulster is very different. As the first anniversary of the ceasefire approaches, the fear that violence may be reignited is at its greatest in 12 months. Filming A Mother's Son today is unlikely to raise already heightened emotions to the extent that people become trigger- happy again, but the timing is certainly insensitive.

Listen to the Irish themselves: both sides of the divide have condemned the idea as sensationalist and even members of Bobby Sands' own family do not approve. They see it as a "naked attempt" to exploit a "painful time for financial gain".

I am not so harsh. I see the merits of the idea. It is the timing with which I am concerned. Please do not set fire to dynamite.

Vicky Ward

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence