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

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn