Kenneth Branagh has become quite a noteworthy director over the years, recently releasing his newest work Belfast. Having started as a well-known Shakespearean actor in Britain, Branagh has taken his skills to film both as an actor and as a director. His directorial credits include such hits as Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and Marvel Studios’ Thor.
His most recent directorial work, Belfast, is a period piece that follows a 9-year-old boy living through the political tumult of Northern Ireland in the 1960s. A loosely autobiographical project, the film was recently screened at the Toronto Film Festival to great reviews.
But how is such a period piece tied to the MCU? Well, Kenneth Branagh is known for little touches in his films, and one such touch involves a sweet little moment where the main character is sitting on a curb reading a vintage Marvel comic starring the character Thor, which of course is the character Branagh brought to life in the MCU with Chris Hemsworth. The moment delighted the film festival’s audience, causing loud applause for the visual.
The Marvel reference is not the only pop culture reference in Belfast as the local movie house and an old-fashioned rabbit-eared TV set play huge roles in the film. Fans have noticed other Easter eggs. The family in the film take in much of the pop culture of the period including Jane Fonda’s Barbarella, the original stop-motion Godzilla, the inimitable Raquel Welch’s One Million Years B.C., and, of course, the original Star Trek series.
The movie shows glimpses of the violent upheaval of the 60s in Northern Ireland as such a film must, but Branagh made the choice to focus more on the smaller picture, following the main character, played by the adorable newcomer Jude Hill, as he comes of age in the dark backdrop of the Troubles as that time is known as.
Only a steady hand such as Kenneth Branagh could intricately weave such a bright story through such a turbulent time frame, and, having grown up during the 60s in Northern Ireland, Branagh had plenty of experience to draw upon for the story. It is commendable, then, that he chose to focus on the bright spot of one small boy coming of age rather than focusing the story on the Troubles.
Kenneth Branagh broke into tears after the Toronto Film Festival premiere after seeing the film on screen and seeing how the audience reacted to it. He described Belfast as a reflection of things “precious and simple” while saying that it was about a boy who had “the love of his family and the movies.”
Although he does not appear in Belfast, Branagh does have upcoming acting appearances. He can be seen in 2022 in the upcoming sequel Death on the Nile, where he will reprise his role as the famous detective Hercule Poirot from Murder on the Orient Express.
Belfast stars Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan, Catriona Balfe, Ciaran Hinds and Dame Judi Dench. It was written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. Focus Features will release Belfast in movie theaters worldwide on November 12.