Directed by Julius Ziz and Dónal Ó Céilleachair. With John Moriarty, Amanda Carmody, Phyllis Riordan, Madeleine Barrett, Chris Moriarty Club, IFI, Dublin (ifi.ie), 76 min
Julius Ziz and Dónal Ó Céilleachair have made a transcendentally beautiful film of their appropriately eccentric musing on the life and works of the late mystic philosopher John Moriarty.Culling together archive footage, fresh interviews and nature photography into a visual poem (scored to poignant music by Peadar Ó Riada) the directors bring us among mammary mountains, translucent streams and, ultimately, finger-wagging snippets of supposedly awful urban life.
The film is a technical triumph, but it’s unlikely to win many converts among those unfamiliar with or actively hostile towards Moriarty’s large body of writings.
Born in Kerry, a graduate of University College Dublin, Moriarty taught in Canada before ultimately returning home to compose collections of memory and reflection such as Dreamtime and Nostos. His subject was the hidden, ancient truths that lie behind everyday experience.
Staying true to their lyrical sensibility, the directors include relatively few interviews on the man and virtually no explanations of his work. Moriarty’s own words are left to argue for the writing.
No doubt aficionados will soak up his lengthy anecdotes on rural life and his quasi-poetic evocations of ancient gods. The unconvinced will encounter much that comes across like a priceless parody of Celtic windbaggery. He talks of lying next to badger sets. “When I went into nature it was my own knowing I was meeting,” he intones.
In a spirit of full disclosure, I should admit to never having read John Moriarty. For all its undoubted loveliness, Dreamtime, Revisited does nothing to persuade me to change that situation. Apologies.