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Love, Prejudice, Despair, Hope, Poverty, Sacrifice, Selfishness, Church.
The film is a true story portraying the McCourt family battling unemployment, their father's alcoholism, poverty, prejudice and infant mortality over a 15 year period, from 1935 to 1950, initially in New York and then for most of that time in Limerick. .
The McCourts are a working class Irish family. The father Malachy is a protestant from Ulster while the mother is Roman Catholic from Limerick. The film is seen from the viewpoint of the eldest child, Frank, beginning as a six year old. It chronicles the family's passage through the years as hope gives way to despair, as sacrifice reaches its limits, and as youthful ideals finally find fruition.
Angela's ashes do not actually feature in the film, although they do in the book. The ashes are the remains of a coal fire, since expired, in the family kitchen. Angela, the mother, after years of disappointments and heartache brought on by her irresponsible husband, the death of several of her children, and abject poverty, is once again penniless, and is shown sitting in front of the useless fire poking its ashes, as one would the coals of a burning fire.
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The film is based on the book of the same name, which stayed at the top of the best-seller lists in the UK and USA for months from mid-1998. The book is widely acclaimed as a masterpiece. Frank McCourt's story resonates with huge numbers of people, both those who relate directly to their story, of which there are many in Britain and America, and those who are concerned about exploitation, religious control and poverty in today's world.
British director Alan Parker is one of the world's foremost filmmakers. He directed the recent Evita film-musical starring Madonna, The Road to Wellville (the story of Mr Kellogg), Mississippi Burning, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Fame, and Midnight Express amongst others.