With maestro Kenneth Branagh at the helm, ‘Belfast’ is a historical coming-of-age drama probing into times of division and unrest. The story unfolds through the eyes of nine-year-old Buddy, chronicling his Ulster protestant family in a Catholic majority neighborhood in Ireland’s Belfast. When The Troubles erupt in the city, Buddy’s father returns from his job in England to take care of the family.
The story paints a shining picture of a family going through a trying time while reflecting upon themes of community, innocence, and history. If the olden ambiance of the movie has thoroughly swayed you, we have some suggestions at hand. You can watch most of these movies similar to ‘Belfast’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. American History X (1998)
‘Fight Club’ may be the holy grail of culture, but Edward Norton arguably essayed the most challenging role as a white power skinhead leader in ‘American History X.’ Helmed by Tony Kaye in his feature directorial debut, the movie probes into a socially segregated and increasingly hostile world, where the youth seem to be lost in the absence of guiding voices.
Set in a San Diego neighborhood, the story probes into the Vinyard family where Danny, the youngest in the family, wants to walk the steps of his brother Derek, a leader of the local Neo-Nazi movement. The story gradually follows Danny’s disillusionment while riots overwhelm the suburban streets. If you are looking for another eclectic mix of the familial and the political, following ‘Belfast,’ this is a film worth scanning.
6. The Dance of Reality (2013)
Visionary auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky returned with the semi-autobiographical magic realist flick ‘The Dance of Reality,’ (‘La Danza de la Realidad’) breaking a hiatus of over two decades. The movie follows young Alejandro, his father Jaime, and his mother, Sara. While the singing mother is compassionate towards the child, the father, a fan of Stalin, desperately seeks to discipline the boy.
Alejandro shifts through scenes of plague and state-sponsored violence, while the movie contains a great deal of the director’s signature trope. If following ‘Belfast,’ you feel like exploring civil wars through the eyes of a child, this movie is an excellent entry point in Jodorowsky’s strange cinematic vision.
5. Roma (2018)
Alfonso Cuarón’s subtle and symbolic masterpiece ‘Roma’ remains one of the most delicate black and white movies of the 2010s. A homage from the director to his childhood nanny, the family movie takes us to 1970s Mexico City in a time of unrest. When Antonio, the father, leaves with his mistress, Sofia finds herself alone with four kids. She takes domestic worker Cleo and her children for a much-anticipated getaway.
Incidentally, the final depiction of the ocean lies in sharp contrast to the claustrophobic ambiance of the city, while some of the shots leave a lasting impression in your mind. Like ‘Belfast,’ the period drama showcases a struggling family in a time of conflict, but they don’t let the struggle overwhelm them.
4. Good Vibrations (2013)
Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, ‘Good Vibrations’ is an unlikely musical that attempts to capture the spirit of a troubled generation. DJ Terri Hooley lives in the times of The Troubles in 1970s sectarian Belfast. However, he remains a non-conformist and an idealist, not letting the bleak landscape deviate him from his path of discovering new music. In turn, his record shop becomes one of the docking grounds for the thriving punk rock scene in the city. If following ‘Belfast,’ you seek another foray that chronicles the times of unrest in Belfast, this is the movie you should add to your bucket list.
3. Persepolis (2007)
Helmed by Marjane Satrapi and based on her autobiographical graphic novel of the same name, ‘Persepolis’ is an animated biographical drama that inspires you to battle the trying times. The movie begins in pre-revolutionary Iran, where Satrapi’s family is liberal and progressive. Little Satrapi dreams of a conversation between Marx and God. Against the backdrop of the growing tension after the Islamic Revolution, the movie traces the child’s growth into a punk-loving rebel. If ‘Belfast’ makes you wonder how childhoods are lost in times of conflict, this is the movie where you should head next.
2. Bloody Sunday (2002)
Paul Greengrass is now famous for his precise handling of historical events in the cinematic mode, but people hardly knew him before the groundbreaking historical drama ‘Bloody Sunday.’ Based on the seminal monograph ‘Eyewitness Bloody Sunday’ by Don Mullan, the story recreates the events of the Bogside Massacre of 1972.
The story unfolds through the eyes of SDLP politician Ivan Cooper, who was among the central organizers of the campaign that ended in the tragedy. The movie stays faithful to history and devoid of a score. If following ‘Belfast,’ you seek to visit another such snippet from The Troubles, this movie leads you to the firing line.
1. Mickybo and Me (2004)
In Terry Loane’s cult classic indie coming-of-age movie ‘Mickybo and Me,’ two boys become friends in the sectarian Belfast of the 70s. The boys are from two sides of the war camps — one, a catholic, and another a protestant. However, it does not take long for them to bond over ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.’ Inspired by the classic, they dream of moving to Australia and robbing some banks. While that does not happen, the movie chronicles their goofy misadventures, probing into the futility of conflict. Numerous films before ‘Belfast’ have chronicled the harrowing chapter in Irish history, but very few have as much heart as this critically acclaimed venture.
Read More: Is Belfast Based on A True Story?