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On August 15, 1998 the town of Omagh, Northern Ireland was rocked by a devastating attack. With a threatening call to the local news agency, the RUD (Royal Ulster Constabulary) arrived on the scene and sectioned off the courthouse area that the threat was supposedly targeting. Little did they realize that the Real IRA had planted a car bomb further down on Market Street and in the blink of an eye killed 29 people and injured over 200. This tragedy wounded the community and together they fought for civil suits and to see the people responsible brought to justice, but it wasn't until years later that the actual people responsible were captured.
Six years after the bombing a made for TV movie was broadcast by Irish state broadcaster RTÉ and UK network Channel 4. The film took a somber look at the attack, how it ripped families apart and the ensuing communal struggle for justice. It may seem disrespectful at first to see such a picture being made so shortly after the horrific event, but it has been made with such care and reverence that it comes across as an emotional tribute instead of an attempt to capitalize. Here in America, we are somewhat distanced to threats from groups like the IRA, but in parts Ireland it's a part of life. If you're the type of person who has only experienced these things through the world news broadcast, it's important to sit through and watch the emotional aftermath that this movie conveys.
The film focuses on the Gallagher family from start to finish, though there are several other secondary and key characters. On the fateful day of the bombing, Michael (Gerard McSorley) and his son Aiden (Paul Kelly) are working at their garage, but when one of his son's friends come along. Michael allows him to leave work and go into town to do some shopping, but this proved to be a fateful decision because his son gets caught up in the blast. When Michael hears of the attack the film takes a riveting and emotional tour of the devastation and hospitals as he franticly searches for his son. He is behaving out of hope and denial though and eventually his worst fears are realized when he finds out that Aiden was killed in the attack.
Following the family through the aftermath is a gut wrenching experience and one that is captured fantastically in the scope of emotional despair. As with most things like this, emotional tragedy eventually leads to anger and wanting to see those responsible brought to justice. With that in mind the victim's families of Omagh join forces to bring out the corruption and names of the Real IRA. It eventually leads to many more hardships for the Gallagher family, but in Michael's eyes is a necessary step at finding closure for Aiden's death.
Omagh proves to be an eye opening drama that is well written and thought out. I can't attest for how historically accurate the depiction is, but it is an emotionally portrayed tale that is well acted and from what I've researched, is factual for the most part. Made for TV movies tend to be easily passed over, but this one is worth taking a look at, especially if you know anybody from the region that this attack took place. I suppose it's morbid in a way, making a film about the event, but the story itself is emotionally driven and heartfelt.
Omagh is presented with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Being a made for TV movie the quality is not as good as if it had a higher budget, but even so it is still very acceptable. The image does however feature a decent amount of grain, speckle, edge enhancement and an occasional frame stutter. The color palette has been washed out slightly and the film uses dramatic lighting to get across some emotional points. The movie also uses a non-steady camera that constantly moves, which helps increase the tension in many scenes. Overall the film looks good on DVD, though it's nothing that will take your breath away or get super high marks for quality.
With a 2.0 English Stereo track, Omagh is a little more subdued than most films, but judging it from its television roots, it sounds very good. I didn't really notice any dropout or distortion at any time, though at points the dialogue is very soft. The disc also comes with optional English subtitles that really come in handy, especially if you're not used to listening to thick Irish accents (like me). The film also makes some good use of somber music and includes a song near the end of the picture that was performed at the memorial of the Omagh bombing.
Apart from some trailers and some production notes if you utilize the DVD-ROM on your PC there isn't anything else on the disc that resembles bonus material. It's unfortunate because with a film like this that is based off of a true event it would have been nice to have had more information on the material.
One part documentary and one part drama, Omagh is a memorable film that is well acted and emotional. The plight of the citizens of the quaint Northern Ireland town has been captured here in seemingly every detail, though no matter how realistic a picture is, it can't capture the scope of the attack or how it truly affected the victim's families. The disc features some acceptable visual and aural quality but they aren't anything that will make an impression on you. Overall though, the film is powerful enough to warrant a recommendation on the DVD. Recommended