The Banshees of Inisherin Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Friendship-enmity in the sinister drama  The Banshees of Inisherin (2022). The meaning of the film The Banshees of Inisherin, plot analysis, essence, explanation of the ending, similar films.

Countries: Ireland, UK, USA

Genre: drama, comedy

Year of production: 2022

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Actors: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

Slogan: “Everything was fine yesterday”

Awards and nominations: The film won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay.

Martin McDonagh, who shoots unique, original films with a hidden meaning in defiance of Hollywood, many of which perform well at the box office, did not disappoint his audience this time either. The point of The Banshees of Inisherin is that wars are fought not on the battlefield, but in the minds and hearts.

However, this is an art-house movie and every connoisseur will be able to see here the central theme of the story that is closest to him.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film The Banshees of Inisherin. Spring 1923. Ireland is in civil war. On the island of Inisherin (in reality it does not exist), two old friends live – Colm Doherty and Podrick Sullivan. Out of the blue, Colm, a talented folk musician, declares that Podrick is boring and dull, and refuses to communicate with him. He also says that he is going to devote the rest of his life to writing music and bright actions.

Colin FarrellColin Farrell played the role of Podrick Sullivan. Frame from the film.

Podrik such a demarche unsettles. Colm was one of his few friends, and the breakup hurts him. He makes several attempts to talk to a friend, but he severely suppresses them. Moreover, he issues an ultimatum: as soon as Podrick reasserts himself, he will cut off his finger on his left hand. And so it will be every time he bothers him again.

Podrick has a sister, Siobhan. She, along with the local holy fool Dominik, are trying to reconcile old friends, but they fail. Podrick, not yet realizing that the ultimatum was given to him quite seriously, gets drunk in a bar and tries to get Colm to talk. In response, he cuts off his index finger, brings it to the house of a former friend and throws it at the door.

And on the island lives Mrs. McCormack – a kind of head girl. She announces that death will soon come to Inisherin. The atmosphere on the island begins to thicken: the superstitious islanders, impressed by the ominous prediction of Mrs. McCormack, live in anticipation of the tragedy. And a terrible denouement comes – Dominic’s body is found in the lake …

Unexpectedly, Colm, who has been writing a melody all this time, which he called “The Banshee of Inisherina”, informs Podrick that he is ready, as before, to be friends with him. However, he bitterly tells him how, out of jealousy, he tricked one of Doherty’s friends into leaving the island. Colm responds to this by cutting off the remaining fingers and throwing them near the house of a friend.

Toward the end of the picture Podrick’s donkey Jenny finds one of the fingers, eats it, chokes and dies. Podrick blames Colm for the animal’s death. Enraged, he promises to burn down his house. The next day, he makes good on his threat, but first takes Colm the dog to safety. Before leaving, he looks out the window and sees Colm sitting inside the burning house.

He manages to escape and in the final, having called Podrick for a conversation, he reports that now that his house has burned down, their enmity has come to an end. However, Podrick replies that if Colm died in a fire, then another matter. He turns around and is about to leave. Colm thanks him for looking after his dog, to which Podrick replies that he was glad to do him a favor.

Brendan GleesonThe role of Colm Doherty was played by Brendan Gleeson. Frame from the film.

Ending explanation The Banshees of Inisherin

Most viewers offer the following explanation for the ending. Colm manages to achieve his goal – having survived an existential crisis, he finds the meaning of life and is ready to continue to be friends with Podrick. However, now it seems that the second hero is on the verge of rethinking his life.

The final picture is open. Someone calls it hopeful, someone – on the contrary, too fabulous. However, to understand it, as well as the essence of the film, it is worth paying attention to mise-en-scenes with fingers.

And you can understand the meaning of the ending of the film “Banshee of Inisherina” if you understand that the whole picture is an allusion to the civil war in Ireland. In 1922-1923, the Irish Free State, supported by England, fought the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was supported by the Soviet Comintern. It was a war of theirs with theirs.

There is only one interpretation of Colm’s cutting off fingers – it is a metaphor for war. The conflict often begins “out of the blue” and in this case we are talking about the so-called “cumulative irritation”. Each next step only aggravates the situation – until the blood atones for everything.

Podrick at first does not understand anything (and who would understand?) and involuntarily “rocks the boat”. The situation gets out of control and now he himself, Podrick, is undergoing a cruel transformation. He is ready to kill, but not ready to forgive. And Colm is ready. Left without an arm, he wants to drink beer with him. But the point of no return has already been passed. All. End.

The meaning of the film The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh is not only a director, but also a playwright and screenwriter. His film The Banshee of Inisherin is based on an unpublished play called The Banshee of Inisheer. Previously, McDona filmed “pan-European” arthouse cinema. But this film marks his return to his homeland – to Ireland.

The scriptwriter and director presents a chamber play for a limited number of characters. Speaking about the meaning of the picture, McDona noted that one of the main ideas embedded in the script was the inevitability of parting. Put simply, The Banshee of Inisherin explores the theme of conflict and breakup. Colm’s sudden, strange demand pulls the rug out from under the good-natured Podrick. But was this statement really so unexpected?

The turning point did not happen in one minute – it was prepared long before the start of the picture and is hidden from the eyes of the viewer and the rustic Podrick. The clue to this behavior of Colm is as follows. Heroes, adults, mature men, live on the island from birth. Probably, they also know each other since childhood.

The buddies while away the time drinking at the local pub, and Colm, who is more mature in every respect, patiently listens to Podrick’s endless empty talk. The same does not notice that his friend is in a spiritual and creative crisis. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because he can’t.

One day, Colm got tired of pretending and decided that he wanted and was ready to change. But Podrick, still not understanding anything, found his own explanation for this. The reason for Colm’s bad mood is Colm himself, Podrick decided. And he rushed to besiege his friend with the same zeal with which his distant ancestors besieged neighboring castles.

However, having come across Colm’s inflexibility and rigidity, Podrick began to look for the cause in himself. However, he did not find any flaws in himself and decided that in this way Colm wants to insult him.

Kerry CondonKerry Condon starred as Siobhan. Frame from the film.

Resentment makes the kind, but narrow-minded Podrick change and act actively. He takes out his evil and annoyance on others, which leads him to destruction. In their analysis of the characters in the picture, viewers say that in the case of Podrick, we are talking about resentment. This is a rather complicated concept, the meaning of which is that a person becomes hostile to the one whom he considers the cause of his failures. At the same time, he is aware of the futility of trying to raise his status in society.

Who is Podrick? He is a typical layman. Everything suits him, he does not plan to change. He does not think about the meaning of life and does not care about development issues. We see the whole history through his eyes and together with him we go through a path of hard transformation. Podrick cannot take the place of another person and give him the right to choose – he simply does not know how to do this. Fear of reality and inner emptiness Podrick tries to fill with endless conversations. His love for the donkey is nothing more than a fear of being alone. But the collapse of his happy little world is inevitable. Reality has long since changed. And to pretend that everything has remained the same is no longer possible.

Who is Colm? He is a deep introvert. He says almost nothing about himself, and the viewer tries to understand him through actions. He sits in his dark house, looks at the sea, listens and plays music. In his development, he has reached that very point of no return – he is ready to give up parts of his body in order to reach the end. But how to explain this to Podrick, who does not want to move at all? ..

The director builds the story in such a way that we alternately sympathize with both characters in the picture. Moreover, we get involved in the conflict, because everyone must have had similar situations.

Barry KeoghanThe role of Dominic Kearney was played by Barry Keoghan. Frame from the film.

Civil War

The roar of shots of military operations reaches the island. A local policeman is involved in the executions, Colm and Podrick anxiously peer into the restless sea surface.

If the “Banshee of Inisherina” is a metaphor for war, then we can assume that Colm symbolizes the struggle for independence. He is ready for self-sacrifice for the sake of inner freedom and choice. Podrick is intimidated by change and takes the conformist side, where he is chosen for, and in return he gets stability and a full stomach.

Even distant military actions poison the souls of heroes. McDona in detail, step by step, leads both from simple misunderstanding and errors in communication to a global catastrophe, when reconciliation is no longer possible.

At the end of the film, it becomes unimportant what the cause of the conflict is. The price is high, innocent victims pay for it with their lives. So the metaphor of war goes beyond the limits of a private conflict – however, the geography of specific countries too …

The meaning of the name

The title of the painting, The Banshee of Inisherina, refers to Irish folklore. Banshee – a spirit that appears near the house of a person doomed to death. With loud, eerie sobs, he predicts his imminent death. In fact, this is an image of death (there are a lot of them in Celtic mythology – from the terrible dullahan to the colorful, fair Anku).

In the film, the function of the banshee is performed by Mrs. McCormack. A creepy old woman predicts death on the island. No, this is not Podrick’s donkey, but the young man Dominic, whose body was found in the lake. Colm conceived the idea of ​​writing the song “Banshee of Inisherin” – further proof that he was tormented by existential questions. But the whole story is a painful reflection on the choice and meaning of life in the face of trials.

Brendan Gleeson, Colin FarrellFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few paintings similar in meaning to the “Banshee of Inisherin”:

  • Calvary (Ireland, UK, 2013). Father James once hears a threat in his confession: in a week he will be killed. The priest is not going to violate the secrecy of confession and inform the police.
  • “Marriage Story” (USA, UK, 2019). Charlie and Nicole, confident that marriage is hindering their careers, decide to separate. However, at one point, something goes wrong.
  • “Lie low in Bruges” (UK, USA, 2007). Ray and Ken are hitmen. Having failed the task, they, on the orders of the boss, go to Bruges to lay low there. However, this is not so easy to do.
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