29 November 2018, The Tablet

Ulster unplugged


Stunning adaptation so easy on the eye

Ulster unplugged

Ann Skelly and Jamie Dornan
Photo: Night flight pictures, Teddy Cavendish

 

Death and Nightingales
BBC2

I’ve been to rural northern Ireland a few times and reckon it must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth – well, certainly the bits of the Earth I’ve visited. Sea, rock, mountains, prickly yellow gorse and dry stone walls, all mossy stone, emerald green and azure blue. So I tuned into the first episode (28 November) of the BBC’s dramatisation of Eugene McCabe’s acclaimed novel Death and Nightingales, set in Fermanagh in the Ulster of the 1880s, with keen anticipation: whatever its merits as drama, it would surely give us some dreamy landscape shots.

And indeed it does, its cameras lingering over a lovely, hazy, haymaking farming world where every field gives long views over a sea studded with wooded islands. Even the desolate quarry from which Protestant landowner Billy Winters makes his money is lit seductively as if permanently in moonlight.

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