In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for The Banshees of Inisherin, we look at important motifs that help us understand the film.
- Colm Doherty – Brendan Gleeson
- Pádraic Súilleabháin – Colin Farrell
- Siobhán Súilleabháin – Kerry Condon
- Dominic Kearney – Barry Keoghan
- Peadar Kearney – Gary Lydon
- Gerry – Jon Kenny
- Jonjo Devine – Pat Shortt
- Mrs. O’Riordan – Bríd Ní Neachtain
- Written by – Martin McDonagh
- Directed by – Martin McDonagh
Important motifs in The Banshees of Inisherin
Colm and Pádraic
Are two main characters are stand-ins for the Irish Civil War (1922-1923). With Colm seeming to represent the Irish Free State and Pádraic the Irish Republican Army. Their conflict is metaphoric for the war and the resulting ideological divide that continues to this day, over 100 years later.
Colm has his dog. Pádraic has his donkey, Jenny, and other farm animals. You could view the animals as innocents in the conflict. Which would make sense since it’s the loss of an innocent life, Jenny’s, that causes Pádraic to not only retaliate but escalate his feud with Colm. Even then, Pádraic still takes care to protect Colm’s dog. Despite the tension between the two sides, even if they’re cruel to one another, they still care about the innocent.
The Japanese oni mask
Colm’s house is very different than Pádraic’s. There’s an international presence. Colm has decorations from different cultures. This demonstrates how thoughtful and curious his character is, despite being isolated in Ireland. As opposed to Pádraic’s more bare bones and draconian decor. The most Pádraic has in the way of decoration is allowing his animals into the house.
When Pádraic burns Colm’s house, there’s a shot of the oni masks burning. It’s arguable that Colm has the largest collection of international objects in all of Inisherin. Given how small Inisherin is, it’s not like that’s a large amount. But the fact that the place has lost even its small amount of cultural artifacts is a blow. It also gets at the lack of culture that drives Siobhán from Inisherin, as she seeks a more cosmopolitan life somewhere else.
No one forces Colm to cut off his fingers. It’s a stipulation he makes up then follows through with completely on a whim. It shows his conviction, but there’s something stupid about it. It begs the question: why? Why would you do this to yourself? Which is something McDonagh may wish he could go back and ask during the Irish Civil War. “Why did you hurt yourself this way?” The entire movie has a tragic quality that seems to say: it didn’t have to be like this.
What are your thoughts?
Are there more motifs you think should be part of the Colossus Movie Guide for The Banshees of Inisherin? Leave your thoughts below and we’ll consider them for the guide.