Even when the subject isn’t Irish, moviemakers have used Dublin as the perfect setting for elsewhere, as with Educating Rita in which Trinity College stood in for an English campus.
Dublin is, of course, one of the world’s great cities but like all large cities it has its dark side, and the film business has not been slow in exploiting the fact.
Three famous crime dramas have featured here: director John Boorman’s bio of criminal Martin Cahill (played by Brendan Gleeson), The General; Ordinary Decent Criminal, directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan and starring Kevin Spacey as Michael Lynch; Veronica Guerin, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Cate Blanchett.
Boorman was actually robbed by Cahill in real life and the director used the crime in one of the scenes. The Caravaggio painting of The Taking of Christ, featured in the film, can be seen in the National Gallery of Ireland. Guerin was a well-known Dublin investigative journalist who worked for the Sunday Independent and was murdered by the criminals she was uncovering.
Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy – The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van – have all been filmed around Dublin and capture the rich and funny character of the people.
Ireland’s dramatic and violent past has been featured in such films as Michael Collins, Cruise-Kidman historic epic Far and Away and the recent Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner from director Ken Loach, The Wind that Shakes the Barley. As much as the humans involved, Dublin and Ireland took a starring role.
Braveheart was set in Scotland but director-star Mel Gibson filmed the action scenes in the Wicklow Mountains and at Trim Castle. He hired virtually the entire Irish Army Reserves as extras and the story goes that to a man they were reluctant to play the English Redcoats rather than the rampaging Scots.
Ireland stood in for New England for the 1956 filming of the American whaling classic, Moby Dick (shot in Youghal, County Cork) and, most famously, for the bloody beaches of France for the harrowing opening scene of Saving Private Ryan (Wexford stood in for Normandy).
That most Irish of films, The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was filmed in Cong, County Mayo. The scenic locations are visited by thousands of movie fans each year.
As is the Dingle Peninsula where David Lean filmed Ryan’s Daughter. And Killary Harbour where Richard Harris and Brenda Fricker starred in The Field.
My Left Foot, the story of paralysed writer Christy Brown played by Oscar-winner Daniel Day Lewis, was filmed in Dublin and scenes from the original The Italian Job and Jim Sheridan's In The Name of the Father were shot at the famous Kilmainham Jail.
And you could find yourself with a walk-on part in one of the many films being made in Dublin to this day… just be careful where you walk.