Belfast (the Film), ‘Everlasting Love’ and Van Morrison

Trying to kick-start some of my old routines now that restrictions seem to be lifting somewhat. Pre-pandemic I used to have seven people in my Film Group and we used to go along to our local arts centre to watch whatever was showing on the last Thursday of the month. It was a great way of discovering films you might never have actively chosen – Foreign language films and documentaries, as well as the odd Oscar winner or Hollywood blockbuster. Some were excellent and some were stinkers, but always worthy of discussion afterwards.

Our local arts centre

Sadly, at the moment, Film Group is reduced to two people, myself and one other. For various reasons I’ve lost five of our number from my life over the last couple of years, which is a pretty high dropout rate, but much of it down to the fact some people’s lives are now very different to how they were in 2019. Anyway, tonight I’m off to see a NTLive showing of Leopoldstadt, on this, Holocaust Memorial Day. Hopefully I’ll be able to recruit a few more film fans over the coming months, as let’s face it, ‘group’ is not really the collective noun for only two people. Out of interest, here is the list of films we randomly watched between 2012 and 2018, all carefully documented and subjectively scored (I produced many, many spreadsheets).

Earlier this week I also persuaded Mr WIAA to come with me to watch Kenneth Branagh’s new semi-autobiographical film Belfast. It was released in the US first, so some of you who visit this place have already seen it, but if you haven’t I would thoroughly recommend it.

Turns out both myself and Mr WIAA were born within a few months of Sir Ken, so any story he told of his childhood should have really resonated with us, and it did. The playing in the street, the toys given as Christmas presents, the clothes, school routines, television programmes and comics. The big difference however was that it was set in 1969 Belfast, so that’s where any similarity with our own childhoods ended. That was right at the start of The Troubles, when bombings and violence escalated on the streets of the city. It wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time that Belfast children aged nine, just like myself, were facing such danger on a daily basis. But it’s not all grim, the film is classed a comedy-drama, with much of the comedic moments coming from Jude Hill, the young actor who played Buddy, the character inspired by the young Kenneth Branagh.

One aspect of the film I found a little unbelievable, was that Buddy’s parents were played by the extremely good-looking actors Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan. I didn’t remember our parents ever looking that good, but then Mr WIAA reminded me of some of the photos we have of his very fashionable mum and dad from those days, and they really were an attractive couple. We always think of our parents as being old despite them probably only being in their 30s when we were young. One of the memorable scenes in the film was from a family wake which in Ireland is cause for a bit of a party – Jamie Dornan, as well as being a great actor can also sing it seems, and his character entertained the mourners with this No. 1 hit song from 1969, Everlasting Love by Love Affair. It was a really special scene and I defy anyone who goes to see the film not to have it as an earworm for the next few days.

Everlasting Love by Love Affair:

But of course when making a film set in Belfast, it was highly likely there would be much on the soundtrack from Van Morrison. After my trip to Belfast in 2018 I wrote a post about it here, and after seeing ‘the Man’s’ face on many of the city’s murals, I shared his signature song. This time I’m going to share Days Like This which was married up with a particulary poignant scene in the film and was the song of his I enjoyed most.

Days Like This by Van Morrison:

Days Like This was the title song of his 1995 album of the same name. It became one of the official anthems of the peace movement and was used in an advert promoting the cease fire.  Van Morrison performed it in front of a large audience when US President Bill Clinton visited Belfast.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Back in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, I often warned that the virus would have massive implications for all of us, way beyond the effects of the virus itself. At the time I think I was classed as a bit of a doom and gloom merchant, especially as many of us were ‘loving the lockdown’ with all that fine weather. As the months and years have rolled by, many have indeed fallen victim to some of the negative side-effects of the pandemic, which has turned their lives upside down. I think we’ve escaped the worst of it but I do miss some of my old routines, Film Group being one of them. As I said above, hopefully over the course of 2022 I’ll find some new film fans to join our ‘group’ of two.

As for the film Belfast, it certainly brought back many happy memories of my own childhood which, excluding the backdrop of The Troubles, was scarily similar to Buddy’s. Not all of us go on to become a Sir (or Dame) however, so there was obviously something about the young Kenneth Branagh that made him destined for great things.

I think the soundtrack to Belfast lifted it up a notch, and although the scene with the song Everlasting Love is strangely out of kilter with the rest of the film, it certainly was an important one, and it will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema.

Until next time…

Days Like This Lyrics
(Song by Van Morrison)

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Belfast (the Film), ‘Everlasting Love’ and Van Morrison”

  1. Alyson, what a great post and I agree with all of your comments about “Belfast”. Songs that are performed in a non musical movie can be so powerful. In contrast the ‘mood’ created by all the Van Morrison titles, “Everlasting Love” was a real moment. It is such a happy song made even more so by the performance. Talk about an ‘earworm’, I saw the film late last year and I still can’t get it out of my head. Dornan and Balfe are handsome, individually and as a couple. I thought Dornan had added a bit of weight for the role (realism?) Your comment on their looks reminded me of my initial reaction to the casting of Daisy Edgar Jones as Marianne in “Normal People”. She is drop dead gorgeous, not at all like the girl described by Sally Rooney in the initial pages of the book. However, she was so good in the role that I quickly got over that point.
    As we move into awards season, I wonder if the fine performances by all the major cast members of “Belfast” will result in none of them being individually recognized. Was there really a ‘lead’ actor? One could argue that it was Jude Hill and not Jamie Dornan. If so, all the rest of the cast would compete in the ‘Supporting’ categories.
    All in all an excellent film, worthy of viewing by all WIAA readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you saw it towards the end of last year and after watching the trailer I knew it would be something I would enjoy. A grim time for Northern Ireland but seen through Buddy’s eyes there was so much warmth and joy too. Van’s songs popped up liberally throughout and did create the appropriate mood but the inclusion of Everlasting Love from 1969 was a masterstroke. The scene at the wake was apparently the very first scene they filmed so perhaps why it seems strangely incongruous with the rest of the film but my goodness it certainly worked. I think I’ll have the song as an earworm for a few weeks too. Hope it wins a few awards as I think it deserves it.

      I loved the television series Normal People but hadn’t read the book so wasn’t aware of how Marianne was described in it. Even in the drama however much was made of how unattractive she was at school which was confusing indeed as she is as you say ‘drop dead gorgeous’. It still worked however so maybe having the gorgeous Caitriona and Jamie in Belfast works fine too (good they chose Irish actors for it).


  2. I used to consider myself a film buff, so I’m disappointed how many on your spreadsheet I’d not seen. 20 years ago, I’d have scored much higher.

    Days Like This brings back conflicting memories for me as the CD was a gift from an old girlfriend, shortly before it all went boom.

    Everlasting Love though is one of the catchiest songs on the planet. My own personal favourite version is this huge slab of 80s cheese…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no again – I think you’ve shared this clip on your own blog as I remember it. Cool hair/bandana – NOT.

      As for the films, don’t beat yourself up too much as many of them were quite obscure and part of a Film Festival or something – I just like the randomness of it, never knowing what you’re going to get. Although not a film as such, the NTL performance of Leopoldstadt we watched last night at the cinema was really good, one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. Tom Stoppard’s most recent work (his last?) and very personal to him and his family history, appropriate for yesterday.

      I’ve written about my favourite film Red Dog around here before but my second favourite of all of them was this one, the Swedish film ‘The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared’. We had no idea what it would be like but we all thought it was brilliant.


  3. I do hope your film club will be able to expand a little this year, such a lovely thing to do. If only I lived nearer…! Great that you enjoyed Belfast so much, I do lke the sound of it but mentioned it to Mr SDS who has zero interest, in spite of my trying to persuade him that it is probably worth a watch for more nuanced reasons than just its theme. I have managed to do so before, and he’s surprised himself (for instance with Arcadia) but it’s such hard work sometimes! I keep thinking, one day I’ll catch up on all the films I’d like to see but life always seems to get in the way…. However, your list (very impressive) would be a great place to start! And I would definitely like to know more about ‘The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared’ – surely a contender for the best film title ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, if only you were nearer…! I’m really lucky to have the arts centre so near to where I live as pre-pandemic that’s where I did most of my socialising – We had a really good run with Film Group but even before the pandemic I was losing people for various reasons and I’ve found that I’ve not really made any new friends over he last couple of years (all this staying at home malarkey), so not easy to start it up again. Let’s see how this year goes. Hope my list offers up some inspiration for home viewing but of course only my group’s opinion. We all agreed on the 100 Year Old Man film however, if you ever come across it – Really clever and although Swedish with subtitles, it made for really good viewing.

      As for Belfast, it was all about childhood, family and belonging really so maybe not what you’d expect. I loved it and I’m sure it’ll win a fair few awards come the time.


    1. Best to see things before you’ve read what others thought, but yes, please report back with your findings.

      As for my Film Group, we did well for many years but even pre-pandemic it had fallen victim to the Magnus Mills effect. Hopefully I will pick up some new members as things become more normalised. Hope the Vinyl Session is still going well.


  4. My worst fears regarding “Belfast” came true! The three leads ‘cancelled’ themselves out leaving only Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds in contention for a ‘Supporting’ Actor/Actress Oscar. Kenneth Brannagh himself is nominated for Writing and Directing. Plus the film is in the running for Best Picture. Even ageless Van Morrison is competing for Best Song. All in all, a pretty good validation for the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed that today. I have a feeling it could be one of those films that might be nominated for many awards but may end up with very few – A consistent runner-up probably.

      I’ve had many, many views for this post over the last fortnight – It comes up quite high in the search engines when you google Belfast and Everlasting Love. I think most people who see the film come away with that earworm that we experienced!


  5. I’m surprised by those people who thought Everlasting Love was a great fit for the film. To me, it looks like it was thrown in when creators thought the film’s music lacked a certain something. Van’s music was great but maybe too low key to create a real film/music memory. There was no mention of the parents’ musical skill yet there they were performing like professionals. When did they practice with the band? It all looked a bit unreal. It was cheesy and emotional in my humble opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by. As I said in my first reply above, it was the first scene they filmed for the movie and it does seem strangely incongruous with the rest of it, but it’s such a catchy pop song from the era it makes the wake into a celebration as opposed to something quite morbid. As for being unreal, of course it was, but sometimes you just have to roll with it and not question when they did their rehearsals etc. Because they used the song for the trailer it has become synonymous with the film now and for most people it became an earworm for some time after they left the cinema. Worse things that could happen. We all have our own opinions however and you obviously thought it was cheesy.

      Incidentally, in Scotland where I’m from, it was not unusual for family members to get up and join the band for a few songs at family occasions. Each family had their ‘singer’ who was as good as any professional, but life took them down another path. Probably the same in Northern Ireland and Jamie Dornan’s character was obviously their family singer in Belfast!


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