FILM REVIEW: IF I SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE- THE SHANE MacGOWAN STORY

Music videos and archived footage supplement recent interviews in this documentary of ex-Pogues singer Shane MacGowan. We follow his life from the early days in Ireland and England, through his formation of – and later dismissal from – The Pogues, to his new band The Popes. Shane’s family, friends, and former bandmates comment on the music, the rumors, and the alcohol.

Directed by Sarah Share * Cinematography by Colm Whelan * Editing by Orla Daly

Ireland, 2001, colour, 91 min.

Starring Nick Cave, Paul Simonon, Shane MacGowan, Victoria Clarke, Maurice MacGowan, Sarah Share and more…

“He had a smart brain. It only lost a few million cells. ” Thus begins this documentary by Shane MacGowan’s Dad.

(Sadly YouTube have removed the film from its platform. It’s available to buy/rent on several sites but here is Part 1 the first fifteen minutes. The other parts follow but are unavailable in some countries)

If I Should Fall From Grace is a candid portrait and artistic overview of Ireland’s ‘punk poet laureate’ that traces the singer-songwriter’s life from his childhood in Ireland, through his troubled teenage years in London, on into his explosion on the punk music scene fronting the Pogues and beyond. On a deeper level, the documentary examines distinctly Irish themes of the diaspora and displacement, anti-Irish racism, ‘the Troubles’, Irish Nationalism, Alcoholism, the legacy of Irish folk music and culture, and the Faustian price paid for artistic genius. Did I mention that it has some of the finest songs ever written? Featuring insightful commentary from his closest friends, family members and collaborators, and at once heart-breaking and inspiring, the film suggests that despite the hard road taken, MacGowan has yet to fall from grace.

Never forgetting that his family’s land in Ireland is his true spiritual home, young Shane MacGowan found himself uprooted at an early age when his parents moved to London for work. Suffering from displacement and the anti-Irish sentiment of his new environment, MacGowan found acceptance and community in London’s emerging punk subculture and quickly realized that playing traditional Irish Republican fight songs to a frenetic rock beat was perhaps the most punk rock thing one could do in the anti-Irish climate of England in the 1970s and 80s. At once a poet in the ancient Irish folk tradition; a mesmerizing performer; a godfather of British punk; a contemporary songwriting genius in the tradition of Cave, Dylan, Reed, and Waits; and a fierce Republican fighter with the soul of a hopeless tragic romantic, the film is testament that popular music will not see the likes of Shane MacGowan’s magic again. Long may he play!

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11 thoughts on “FILM REVIEW: IF I SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE- THE SHANE MacGOWAN STORY

  1. Christophe Chérel September 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm Reply

    a contemporary songwriter genius in the tradition of Cave, Dylan, Reed and Waits; and a fierce Republican fighter with the soul of a hopeless tragic romantic! word!!! he’sa genius!!!

  2. John McNally September 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Brilliant movie ! can i suggest his autobiography ” A drink with Shane MacGowan ” also it’s written very uniquely by his partner Victoria.

  3. Danny Power September 5, 2014 at 11:18 pm Reply

    great film.very interesting but with Shane as the subject how could it not be!

  4. Michele Roberts September 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm Reply

    thanks for sharing!

  5. Neil Heath September 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm Reply

    Thanks for the post, really enjoyed watching this again 🙂

  6. Izzy Skint September 11, 2014 at 9:14 pm Reply

    Top DVD, the great hunger is another good DVD about Shane an the Pogues…

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  9. […] ‘Film Review: If I Should Fall From Grace With God- The Shane MacGowan Story’  here […]

  10. Finola McAleese September 12, 2015 at 8:33 am Reply

    Have this on DVD.Must watch it again and have a drink with him as I’m watching it. Just to be sociable. Thanks.

  11. James Michael February 23, 2016 at 2:22 pm Reply

    Went to see him at the barrowlands Glasgow dec. 95. Shane emerged very late, and totally steaming , to slur his way through a few songs. Everyone else was steaming as well, including me. Those were the days.

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