The Rewind

'He Changed My Life' - Commitments Star Pays Tribute To The Late Alan Parker

'He Changed My Life' - Commitments Star Pays Tribute To The Late Alan Parker

Following the sad news of Jack Charlton's recent passing, the various tributes all captured one massive contribution that Charlton made to the country during his time as manager, his work made people feel happy at a time when there wasn't much to feel happy about.

In many ways, the same can be said about Alan Parker's 1991 musical-comedy The Commitments.

Sadly, the Oscar-nominated director passed away on Friday morning following a lengthy illness. With a CV that boasts the likes of Angel Heart, Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, Angela's Ashes, and Mississippi Burning, Parker has left an incredible mark on the cinematic landscape.

However, for most Irish people, he'll always be fondly remembered as the man that directed The Commitments.

In terms of its depiction of a desolate, depressing, and downtrodden Dublin that was in the grips of a recession, Parker's film perfectly captured the reality of daily life.

However, there's a reason why the trials and tribulations of the 'world's hardest working band' continue to be a beloved Irish classic and Jimmy Rabbitte said it best: "Soul is the music people understand. Sure it's basic and it's simple. But it's something else 'cause it's honest, that's it. It's honest. There's no fuckin' bullshit. It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart. Sure there's a lot of different music you can get off on but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you by the balls and lifts you above the shite."

The same can be said about The Commitments because it balanced laughs, drama, dreams, poverty, and pathos perfectly.

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Aside from this, the global success of the film helped kickstart a cultural renaissance in the capital and launch the film careers of Bronagh Gallagher, Glen Hansard, and Maria Doyle Kennedy

During a recent interview with Dave Fanning on RTÉ, Gallagher paid tribute to Parker's career and his work on The Commitments.

"He changed my life, absolutely. Him, Ros and John Hubbard - who brought me into the initial auditions. They were the game changers. They changed my life and they changed the lives of everybody that was involved in the film. It was an extraordinary opportunity to get.  It was an extraordinary experience for all of us. Obviously, it's an honour to be working with a master filmmaker, which is what Parker was," said the star of Pulp Fiction and A Bump Along The Way.

After its release, The Commitments won four BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Picture - Musical or Comedy) and an Oscar (Best Editing).

The film also spawned two soundtrack albums - the first reaching the top-10 on the Billboard 200 album chart and achieved triple-platinum status - while the second album achieved gold status sales.

Looking back on Parker's work, Gallagher was proud to star in a beloved Irish classic.

"The Commitments opened the floodgate for the film industry in Ireland. Nobody predicted the hit that The Commitments was, and what it showed the world was the raw talent we had here, along with some wonderful actors like the late Johnny Murphy. It was a joy from start to finish and every day on set was a pantomime.  Alan was so skilled at what he did. We can safely say that he made a classic. Alan was an artist and very few people can stand up next to him in terms of the eclectic films that he made throughout his life," added Gallagher.

If anyone needs a reminder of an just how good Parker's work on The Commitments was, here it is.

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Paul Moore

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