Branagh reveals more about ‘Belfast’ to Graham Norton

We may only be a few weeks into the new year, but today sees the UK release of what may critics are predicting could be one of the best movies of 2022.

For Belfast, Sir Kenneth Branagh has followed in the footsteps of other acclaimed moviemakers George Lucas (American Graffiti), Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous), John Boorman (Hope and Glory) and Alfonso Cuaron (Roma) by making a film inspired by his own childhood.

While five-time Academy Award nominee Branagh has tackled tough subjects in his previous films, such as the Second World War in Dunkirk, he says it felt like the right time to delve into his Northern Irish roots.

Speaking to BBC News at the premiere in Belfast in November, Branagh said it was a movie he had wanted to write for a long time.

“At one stage I thought there was maybe a story about my grandparents when they were young,” he said. “But in the end it became clear that it [the story] was about this turning point, this moment of change here. There were a lot of big questions for anyone living in Belfast and we had our own little version of it in our family.”

The semi-autobiographical film focuses on the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969, and the love, laughter and loss in one young boy’s life.

Starring newcomer Jude Hill as Buddy, we see him trying to understand the changing world around him, going from a tight-knit neighbourhood to one plagued with riots and aggression.

At the same time, Buddy’s parents, played by Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe, must decide whether to stay in Belfast or head to England.

Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds play Buddy’s grandparents and although the film is primarily shot in black and white, there are flashes of colour throughout.

In tonight’s edition of The Graham Norton Show, the host chats to Branagh, 61, about his eagerly anticipated new film as well as a rich and varied career that has seen him direct and act in several film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as star in TV series Fortunes of War, Shackleton and Wallander, and in the films Wild Wild West, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Valkyrie, The Boat That Rocked, My Week with Marilyn and Tenet. He also directed and starred in Dead Again, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, Thor and Cinderella.

Also in tonight’s edition of Norton’s chat show, Brit Award-winning Emeli Sandé takes her place on the sofa. The Scottish singer-songwriter first rose to prominence after being featured on Chipmunk’s 2009 track Diamond Rings.

Since then, she has released two UK No.1 singles (Read All About It with Professor Green and Beneath Your Beautiful, a collaboration with Labrinth).

Her album Our Version of Events spent 10 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the UK charts and became the best-selling album of 2012 in the UK.

That year, she performed in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics, before she releasing her second album Long Live the Angels four years later.

In 2019, Sandé released her third album, Real Life, which was recorded following an “intense personal journey of self-doubt and self-discovery”.

The 34-year-old has just completed her UK tour and as well as chatting to Graham, she performs her new single Brighter Days, the follow-up to the self-produced, garage inspired Look What You’ve Done from her forthcoming album.