VIDEO: Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009)

It’s not a fairy tale, and it’s not Orwell (though it shares some aspects). Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974, the kickoff for a trilogy, stars Andrew Garfield as Eddie Dunford, a journalist who decides to examine a possible connection between the disappearances of three young girls. What he finds is far more sinister than he ever expected.

It’s a criminally underrated story of corruption, murder, and steamy sex in 1970s West Yorkshire that’s quite a gripping tale, assuming you can understand what’s being said.

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  • Liam Barrett

    Fantastic review.

    Also… yeah, Make-Up Sex is definitely a real life thing. People just don’t really talk about it because, to admit they’ve HAD IT, they have to admit they fucked up somehow in the first place.

  • Steve Rumney

    Aaah! 1970’s and The North. Takes me back.

    • FullofQuestions1

      I’ve heard that the movie portrays them fairly accurately. Do you think it does?

      • Steve Rumney

        Sorry it took so long to get back (I hadn’t noticed till now, oops). To answer your question, it’s not too bad but it does overdo the squalor a bit. We were poor, sure, but it was traditional to make an effort and in 1974 the local council would have had enough resources to help (pre-thatcherism) so things like an abandoned car carcass plonked in the middle of a small housing estate (housing project) would have been very unlikely.

  • Rrrrrright! I’ll give you a big breakdown of that line that happened to swoop over you (not blaming you of course, it’s something a footie nerd like me or anybody else living in that time period would only get):

    1974 was a big year for Leeds in terms of football (soccer to Americans even though I hate that word so much) as they had won the 1973-74 1st Division Championship title and were pretty much the most fierce (dirty cheaters to me, but that’s only because I am a biased Derby County fan, who were also great in the early to mid 70s and together created a MASSIVE rivalry that still goes on to this day) team in the land. Stoke City, the team mentioned were also a good team but only finished 5th in 1974 and again in 1975, which isn’t really bad since there were 22 teams in the 1st Division back then. It’s basically just a derogatory throwaway line that reflected Leeds’ sense of superiority in terms of football back then.

    Now that pointless reference has been explained in needlessly great detail, this film looks very gritty and realistic like most films set in oop North are. You said how you couldn’t understand the Yorkshire accent which is prevelant in another big Northern set film called Kes which has certainly had a lot more time to be seen (made in 1969) and to be considered one of the greatest British films of all time. The US version had to have subtitles because very few could understand the dialect which is understandable to anyone outside the UK. In fact, some of the scenes have been re-dubbed in more recent DVD releases to seem more intelligible to viewers who couldn’t get past t’dialogue in’t original movie.

    Ah Sean Bean. One does not simply quote you from Lord of the Rings or think that you’re a complete prick just because people have only seen you as Alec Trevelyan, one of the most despised Bond villains. He’s actually a damn good actor, screen presence and pretty much a tough-as-nails badass. Here he’s given free reign with his Yorkshire accent and you know what, that’s fuckin’ fan-dabby-dosey!

    You say this movie had a major effect on you at the end, I had the same feeling about Veronica Guerin. Being an aspiring journalist, the story left me shaken about how far you can take journalism before you end up risking your life. It made me question if I was really ready to go into journalism if this is how far I wanted to go to get the facts. This film seems to be the case as well. Looks like this is one to check out in’t good time. Thanks for bringing it to light and apologies for the Sofie Liv-length of this comment!

    • FullofQuestions1

      Is that it? Yeah, I don’t follow football/soccer at all, thanks for explaining it. By the way, people in America, at least where I live, do call it football when talking about the World Cup or the European championship.

      Yeah, the dialogue here was really hard for me to understand for some reason. I have only seen bits and pieces of Kes, and the dialogue there was easier to understand. I also have no problem understanding dialogue in “All Creatures Great and Small”- weird. I rarely turn on captions when I watch an English language film (I admit, I always watch The Magdalene Sisters with subtitles), but when I first watched this movie, I had to have the subtitles on. It’s not even the accent; it’s that I’m not used to phrases like “I were sat in chair.”

      Sean Bean is brilliant, although I admit to not recognizing him in this. I have trouble recognizing actors in general as I’m a person who tends to rely on mannerisms to recognize people. And in Bean’s case, it’s really hard to put together in your mind that all of his characters were played by the same person; he seems like a different person in so many of them! In this, he was an amazing villain- even people who negatively reviewed the movie on IMDB had to admit that he did a great job. He wasn’t evil (though that smile is pretty sleazy and horrible), just a person who did evil things and admitted to being “no angel”. Although I love Silence of the Lambs to death (okay, poor choice of words), I agree with Peace that villains like Dawson are much more chilling than villains like Hannibal Lecter.

      The Millennium trilogy (books and movies) are an obvious third example of journalists risking their lives to get facts that is absolutely brilliantly done. It’s a premise with a lot of potential for great stories, and while I don’t think I could be a journalist, stories like this make me gain a lot of respect for the profession.
      If you are still pursuing the career or have a career, best of luck! And yes, check out the trilogy!

      • No problem. I’ll explain it all damn day. My avatar is a football mascot which is a big clue, probably the most human of them all, Burton Albion’s Billy Brewer. 🙂

        You may be used to phrases like “I’m going home to get some whippets and mushy peas!” then either.

        Bean’s also great in Sharpe as well, another British series about a working class sergeant who gets promoted to Lieutenant after saving the life of the Duke of Wellington but is still looked down upon by the more upper class members of the military. He’s like Justy Ueki Tylor except less susceptible to the dumbest luck and way more badass.

        Thank you for the encouragement FoQ and the recommendation. You’re such a lovely person it almost seems like you’re too nice to review things! haha

    • Sofie Liv

      “Thanks for bringing it to light and apologies for the Sofie Liv-length of this comment!” HEY!?

      • I know, I’m a such a bastard! 😛

  • Fantasy Mission Force

    So Ganon thinks everything is Linked?

  • Jill Bearup

    “Is it nice not being me, it must be so relaxing…”

    Sherlock references FTW.

    • Sofie Liv

      Gotta use more of those myself…

  • V A

    Your delivery makes one wonder whether you really enjoyed the film or this is some sort ironic/sarcastic/hipster/i’m too cool for school take off on legitimate movie reviewers…but hey, at least it’s keeping you off the streets and out of trouble…. Right?

    • Russell Brin (Facebook sux)

      All of her previous recaps (if you bother to watch them) are honest, so there’s no need to incline that this is not also honest…

    • Liam Barrett

      If you think Questions is a Hipster, you honestly don’t know what Hipsters ARE.

    • FullofQuestions1

      I was sick when I filmed it, but it was completely genuine. I just couldn’t open my eyes very well because I’d been rubbing them so much.
      You thought I seemed like a hipster? Heh, I was afraid people would assume I was baked.

  • Russell Brin (Facebook sux)

    I don’t think I’ll ever watch this movie but it was a good recap.  Well executed and thought out, but the subject material is just way too creepy.

    • FullofQuestions1

      I totally understand that, especially since I didn’t actually show the most upsetting parts.

  • Monterey Jack

    My birth year, cool…

  • Torgeaux

    Well done.  A lot of the visuals take me back to the year I spent in Germany……with the swans…..

    • FullofQuestions1

      I don’t like swans very much. They’re pretty when they’re far away, but I’ve had a couple of nasty encounters with mothers and cygnets.

  • Stone_Monkey

    Interesting review of a very challenging and well made film. You should probably see the others, I think they’re equally good.

    The Red Riding Trilogy was a series of films made for and shown on Channel 4 in the UK. I actually watched them as they were shown. The unremittingly grim atmosphere is very typical of what Britain was like at the time – I should know, I was there. I’ll add a few historical details for non-British viewers, if that’s okay.In 1974 Britain finally joined the EU (the EEC as it was then – some people still, quite wrongly, maintain that this was a bad idea); at the time we were the poorest country of the group. The economy was a wreck, police corruption was rife, the IRA were exploding bombs left right and centre both in Northern Ireland and here on the mainland. Britain in the 70s was not a nice place at all.The police corruption portrayed in the films was, unfortunately, very true to life. Famously, over here at least, the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad (a division of the Yorkshire Police Force) was based down the road in Sheffield and were infamous for their dodgy, and downright criminal, dealings (as the joke had it: if you want a serious crime, they’ll do it for you). Their antics were only really brought to light during the late 1980s and the fallout from that took place over most of the early 1990s. There had also been a huge police corruption scandal in the Metropolitan Police Force in London in the late 60s – they had been colluding with a number of London’s more notorious gangsters. The child murders, while less based in fact, do have some echoes of The Moors Murders – which took place here, where I grew up, in Lancashire during the late 60s; I can actually see the moor that the bodies were buried under from my house. The less said about them the better, I think – you can look them up if you’re interested. Let’s just say that these, when added to the somewhat later Yorkshire Ripper killings, mean that there were some truly horrific things going on in Northern and North Western England at the time. All of which adds to the realism of the piece.

    • FullofQuestions1

      This was all interesting to read, thank you so much. As I said in the video, I have virtually no personal connection to this time or area. It was interesting to hear the DVD featurette where Julian Jarrold talks about how difficult for him it was to not make the film a nostalgia trip. The nostalgic aspect does slip through here and there-the soundtrack has some really great music from the era- but the movie depiction and what you’ve just written about does not seem like something to get nostalgic for. But as I said, I didn’t live it; I was worried about reviewing the movie as I felt I couldn’t do it justice as a result.

      I’ve heard about the Moors murders- absolutely horrifying stuff. I have found several sources that say that 1974 was extremely loosely based on the Molseed murder. The documentary I watched about it showed that that was a horrible event as well, especially since the police had evidence right in front of them that Kiszko was innocent. They decided to withhold it even when Castree, the actual murderer, was convicted of assaulting a child the very next year -and let off with a 25 pound fine no less!

      How was this allowed to be shown on TV? From what I can tell, the UK is a little more relaxed about letting profanity slip through, but in America, about 25% of the dialogue would have to be censored. And after all that, there’s the nudity.

      • Stone_Monkey

        We are, as you say, a bit more relaxed about profanity and nudity on broadcast tv here in the UK than you are in the US. There are rules though and woe betide any tv station that flouts them. The main one being that such things are pretty much forbidden to be shown before the watershed time of 9pm. The BBC showed both “The Wire” and “Rome” uncut, for instance (although “Rome” had some expository material slightly cut, as the BBC, rightly or wrongly, made the assumption that their viewers were slightly more au fait with Roman History than a US audience might be), and their home grown dramatic presentations are sometimes not for the faint of heart either. And Channel 4, the commercial channel that commissioned and showed “Red Riding”, does have a reputation for showing more, shall we say, challenging material. 

        The main criterion in the broadcast rules is that the use of these elements should be dramatically valid – shocking content merely for the sake of it is quite frowned upon (comedies are another matter, there is a tradition of quite scurrilous and/or dark, shocking humour in the British psyche that leads to the production of shows like Chris Morris’ “Jam” and Julia Davis’ “Nighty Night”, both of which are quite extreme by anyone’s standards).

        A kind of misty-eyed nostalgia for the 70s does make an appearance on British tv, the original UK version “Life On Mars” is a very good example. Arguably the show itself eventually subverts this – to say any more would get into spoiler territory. One of my problems with that particular show is that I was a child in South Manchester during the 70s (the time and place the bulk of the show was set) and I really don’t remember it being like that. Although as I grew up in the West Indian community here – which is for the most part ignored by the show – it might be that I’m not part of the target demographic. To my mind “Red Riding” gives a far more accurate, if rather stylised, picture of Northern Britain as it was back then.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Neat review!  I do wonder why the cops would give a man who would want to kill them a gun, though.  That just seems totally out of left field.

  • Katie

    Great review. It’s nice to see some one else really enjoyed these movies as much as I did.

    This was my least favorite of the three movies. 80 and 83 had much more of a lasting effect on me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but I went right into 1980 after seeing 1974. I had to take a break after 1980 before I watched 1983. I guess they spoke to me more. It wasn’t until I started showing some people the movies that I really began to like it more.

    I always felt like they gave him the gun to kill Dawson. Kind of cleaning up after him. Once I saw 83 it made more sense. They like the guy’s money but not what he has done to children.