C ra’ze Ireland, it’s called. A new group of YouTubers headed by Seán Creagh, touring the country on the trail of some of the biggest names in film history ever to come to Ireland. First stop, Youghal! Last Sunday (4th Sept. 2011) saw the start of this groups new “road-trip” film campaign. A group of seven actors, artists and film enthusiasts arrived in Youghal in search of the site where John Huston directed the 1956 classic, Moby Dick.
- The film was, naturally enough, quite an attraction at the time it was filmed. People came from Cork City and all around to witness the event. But it’s wonderful to see that, over fifty years later, it is still bringing curious visitors to the town! Starring Oscar Award winner Gregory Peck as the fearsome but intriguing Captain Ahab, Moby Dick was the ideal film for emerging film-maker Seán Creagh to begin with. He and his team aimed to retell some of the important historical facts surrounding the film and also to put their own spin on the classic with a short re-enactment.
Gregory Peck was, of course, the star of the film. However, it should not be forgotten that Youghal itself took on an important role in the film: it played the part of the American shipping town New Bedford. Cra’ze Ireland began their day by capturing some of the more scenic elements of the town by itself. Elements like the iconic clock tower emphasise just how historic and important the location is even without the influence of Hollywood. After all, Edmund Spenser wrote part of The Fairie Queene during his visit; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle named a character from one of his later Holmes stories Inspector Youghal as a tribute to the town, and Sir Walter Raleigh left behind a fine legacy, having been its mayor for two years and (more crucially, from an Irish perspective) having chosen it as the planting ground for Europe’s very first potato.
After taking advantage of the area’s rich heritage, the troop of film-makers began to look at landmarks like Moby Dick’s. The aptly named pub is a lasting beacon of the influence that John Huston’s visit had on Youghal. He would sit in the pub every morning and devise his day’s filming plans. His actors we, by all accounts very friendly with the locals. Spectators came from all over Ireland and Britain to see the shoot. The inspiration that Huston brought has left a visible mark on the town in places such as the pub, and has added greatly to its charm.
Click on the video clip below to see an excerpt from the 1954 film Moby Dick. This is the complete part that was filmed in Youghal
History lesson complete, it was time for Cra’ze Ireland to make some history of its own. Never modest in his ambitions, director Seán Creagh has been making his name in the theatre world for the last three years and now he is setting his sights on the film industry. His theatrical debut was a gutsy performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, no less. While a risky move, the play’s outstanding success won him a lot of interest and praise. Still a believer in taking the bull by the horns, he is tackling the Shakespeares of the film world: John Huston, John Ford, Stephen Spielberg… Cra’ze Ireland plans to tour the country, re-staging and telling the history of such classics as The Quiet Man, Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart, and making them available on YouTube.
Their first “road-trip”, Moby Dick, is a prime example of this. While there have been plenty of documentaries over the years, showing us again and again in different ways the prosperity, the inspiration and the joy that John Huston and Gregory Peck brought, Seán believes that something is being lost. A historian can tell you it was exciting, but are you excited? A documentary can show you the past, but what does that have to do with me now? Gregory Peck was the name in 1956, but we all know that what exhilarates one generation can actually seem boring to the next. Cra’ze Ireland aims to revive some of the feelings attached to the films. Moby Dick happened in 1956, but it happened again last Sunday. The way to keep Ireland’s cinematic history alive, Seán says, is to update it, to relive it, to keep it relevant.
Click on the video below to see a short documentary on the making of Moby Dick in Youghal
Cra’ze Ireland were thrilled to meet the locals in Youghal, who provided insight into the John Huston classic and proved that Moby Dick is still very much alive in the hearts of the people. One young lad told tales of his grandfather who had a small part in the film. When the final product airs on YouTube shortly, the director hopes that Youghal will look proudly on his team’s humble contribution to the town’s proud and ongoing history.
Thursday September 8, 2011