interesting character switch goes on between John and Brian. When they
are first thrown together, Brian is the rebellious one and John is the
voice of moderation, constantly warning him to do what they ask or they
will be beaten. As time goes on, you see Brian being the one to comfort
others, like Terry Anderson. And then finally, John shows a rebellious
streak (I think in the "terrorist union" scene) and you see Brian
John down. I realize the men have been beaten, although, with the
of Frank Reed who acts a little catatonic or looney at times, we don't
see much physical suffering, except the little kicking scene when Brian
doesn't want to be chained.
Probably my favorite scene from an acting standpoint is John
Jill on the TV. As we all know, Colin's ability to project emotions
his lovely face is one of the things that has drawn us here. I just
watching the pain, anguish, surprise and utter incongruity of the
showing simultaneously on Colin's face.
Speaking of Jill, this has bothered me. When John and Brian
to the other location to join Anderson, Sutherland and Reed, John pulls
out a picture of Jill from behind him. Now where do you suppose he's
hiding that picture? Those shorts don't have pockets!
The final voiceover by Ciaran Hinds really gets to me each
time I hear
it. The "What Is a Hostage" speech is very eloquent. It is obvious that
John and Brian think very differently about their experiences. John
the time as 'standing in a queue for four years,' whereas Brian has
to the time perhaps to better advantage.
(Wanda) Did anyone notice the similarity in attitude and
of these two lines from two very different movies?
Yes, I noticed the very same delivery. A pat on the back to you for
giving us if not a Darcy mannerism, at least a P&P one.
Probably my favorite scene from an acting standpoint is John watching
on the TV.
So glad you brought this one up. His eyes are huge here—opened so wide
and filled with anguish. Another bit of rebelliousness here on John's
too, since you brought that point up. He has to convince Brian to
the channel to the news. Brian is concerned they'll be heard, but John
is the more daring here.
I had forgotten from my first pre-Colin fixation viewing of
how John McCarthy's experience is the focal point. Brian's experience
very vivid too, but the story seems to center mostly on McCarthy.
(Karen) Now where do you suppose he's been hiding that
Those shorts don't have pockets!
Didn't one of the guards, at one point, show John a newspaper with
Jill's picture? Maybe he kept it inside his shorts.
Sorry, I'm still bemoaning the fact they split. She gave him
of her life with great loyalty and devotion!
(Evelyn) I'm still bemoaning the fact they split
It's difficult to understand why but there was genuine nationwide
when they parted.
(Evelyn) I'm still bemoaning the fact they split. She gave him
years of her life with great loyalty and devotion!
the film we are not given a lot of information about how serious their
relationship originally was. I mean: were they very nearly engaged or
together? Yes, you have to give Jill enormous credit for waging her
for five years because she could have done a Sophie (from Tumbledown)
just gone on with her life. John had to have been a changed man after
captivity as Brian's voiceover intimates. No one can be untouched by
types of events. The fact that they split up, while sad from the
point of view, may have been mutual.
(Heide) He has to convince Brian to change the channel to
Brian is concerned they'll be heard, but John is the more daring here.
Yes, very true. John is definitely being more daring here. Love the
line "please, sir, can we take off our blindfolds to watch."
Now, two physical details:
So what does everyone think of the briefly browned-out teeth?
they do that all of a sudden? John had been held for so many years and
then all of a sudden his teeth go brown, only to be miraculously
about five minutes later.
Colin's Ribs: In the scene after he's been kicked by the
it appears he is crying, but the most remarkable thing has to be how
ribs really stand out as he turns over on his mattress.
I have just ordered the John McCarthy-Jill Morrell book. I expect it
to be rather painful as the film is for me. Have not yet gotten to a
where I can drool over it. Just imagine being wrapped up in tape. So
I can hardly stand to watch it even though it is so understated in the
film. Just as they understated most of the cruelty and pain and left it
to viewer's imagination. Good filmmaking, BTW. You suffer with the
because the filmmakers dwell on the pain, but by simply showing the
and leaving it to your imagination. At least that's how it works for
The thing with the brown teeth was strange, indeed. I have no
for it. Have to rewatch it to figure it out. Perhaps he did not show
teeth before, as he sometimes cunningly does?
(Karen) The final voiceover by Ciaran Hinds really gets to me
time I hear it. The "What Is a Hostage" speech is very eloquent.
a poem written by Brian Keenan, which is why it is so beautiful and
These were the words of a man who truly knew. It is a very powerful way
to end the film. I remember the first time I saw this movie, just
in stillness for a while after that speech. It so overwhelmed me.
(Karen) all of a sudden his teeth go brown, only to be
whitened about five minutes later.
Another possibility is that the hostages, while held by the same group,
were moved frequently and not always held by the same guards. Living
varied from place to place, as did their treatment by the guards.
they were allowed toothbrushes in one jail and not in another. The
seemed to be treated better. They had radios and books while Brian and
John did not. They were also beaten less, possibly because of Brian's
In his book, Brian expressed concern that John suffered for his
protests and made an effort to watch his temper. This could also
why John toughened as time went by and Brian became more compliant.
two men really strengthened and sustained one another through their
(Karen) Colin's Ribs
They were pronounced, weren't they. That's one of the more painful
scenes. But the worst was when they were taped and moved. I could only
pray I'd pass out because being so confined would drive me insane. We
even distinguish one taped body from another and couldn't tell who was
almost choking in the truck and had to have the tape ripped a bit from
his mouth. Sorry, Renate, I know you find this scene painful too.
Another painful scene is watching Ronald Reagan with Charlton
behind him saying Terry Anderson's speech must have been scripted
Terry would never say that. I'm not about to get into politics here
as an American, I cringed because I remember the debate over his
I like to think that I knew Terry was saying what he felt but I don't
clearly if that was the case at the time.
(Wanda) It's a poem written by Brian Keenan, which is why
it is so
beautiful and moving.
Thanks Wanda. It looks like there is a lot of material out there on
this subject. I also liked what Frank Reed said when he was released.
was a pain in the ass imprisoned, but he was angry and forceful when he
spoke. He mentions all the hostages left behind and says, "For God's
it's been nearly six years!" That simple fact was pretty
The John McCarthy-Jill Morrell book is excellent. There are some
at the end as to why the relationship broke up. Jill had become very
in some respects. The experience must have changed both of them. BTW I
think I've mentioned this, but Colin in some of the shots in Hostages
on the phone to Jill) really does look like John. They both have the
sort of smile or grin.
(Bethan) but Colin in some of the shots...really does look
John. They both have the same sort of smile or grin.
Better and better! BTW, what is he doing today? Is he on TV? How did
this experience influence his career as a journalist?
John McCarthy resumed his career in journalism and branched out into
TV work. (He did a series about sailing around Britain.) Brian got
and lives in Ireland and, I believe, is a writer and journalist. I
the closing poem by Brian very moving. I remember listening to an
with Brian in which he spoke of how he and John supported each other
periods of unimaginable hardship and how he grew to love John. I was
struck by the use of the word "love," which heterosexual men are very
of using in relationship to each other.
(Heide) Ronald Reagan...saying Terry Anderson's speech must
been scripted...I like to think that I knew Terry was saying what he
but I don't recall
felt the same way you did when I first watched this scene. However in
above-mentioned interview, Anderson said that he was indeed reading
a script written by his captors. He had decided it was worth reading
propaganda to let his family see that he was OK, plus he figured no one
would believe he was speaking in his own words anyway.
Does anyone else melt at the end when John and Jill hug? It's
a Darcy/Georgiana-ish hug, isn't it? Knowing their relationship didn't
survive does take a little of the joy out of it though :-(
(Wanda) The Americans seemed to be treated better
When Brian asked how they came to have a radio, Terry Anderson said
"We asked." Who knows whether Brian and John would have received
(Bethan) There are some pointers at the end as to why the
broke up. Jill had become very independent in some respects...the
must have changed both.
Isn't it a pity that the asset that propelled her to work for his
turned into a liability once he was freed?
Some Other Rainbow is a long and very well-written book
doesn't end with John's release. There is also some coverage of his
to freedom. A sad fact—not covered in Hostages or possibly even in the
book—was that John's mother died of cancer whilst he was in captivity.
It is difficult to contemplate the awfulness of this both for John and
I went to the library and the only thing I could find was Terry
book. Here's a tidbit that seems rather pertinent. As mentioned by
and the other American hostages were a bit jealous of the close
John and Brian had developed despite their vast differences. On the
hand, Terry writes of John and Brian: "They've been put off quite a bit
by the aggressive quality in our discussions. They don't understand the
game in it, and of course don't understand that for Tom, it's still a
of therapy..." (p.243)
Our discussions can be aggressive and lord knows we disagree
our group is so small, I've come to look rather fondly on us as a
group who can enjoy stimulating each other even if it means "tweaking"
someone's sensitivities. At the risk of sounding precious, having to
a cell with such ardent debaters as fellow hostages might make the
less painful. It would keep the blood pumping anyway.
Does anyone know if any of it was filmed in Beirut? I realize the cell
scenes were in a studio, but the car chases and the atmosphere looked
I can't help but think that our understanding of John McCarthy comes
directly from Colin's portrayal of him. With no small thanks to the
and director, Colin is able to portray John exactly as Terry Anderson
him in his book:
is an enormously civil man...He rarely complains, and I've never seen
angry. I know he's as lonely and discouraged as any of us, but he just
keeps his cool, and his sense of humor. Doesn't talk much about his
unlike the rest of us." (p. 245)
"He has acted with dignity and integrity through all this, and
his brilliant sense of humor... He seems to think of himself as an
lightweight. In fact, he has an excellent mind..." (p. 320)
An example of McCarthy's humor not shown in the film: One of
wants John to teach him English. He shows items to John and asks for
English word. John replies "cup" to each item shown to him (a spoon,
Bible, etc.). Finally the guard caught on.
Also, I felt that the guards were shown with some sympathy in
I've not gotten too far into the book, but I've seen little evidence
Terry is too enamored with them. At least not yet.
(Terry Anderson) "They've been put off quite a bit by the
quality in our discussions. They don't understand the game in it, and
don't understand that for Tom, it's still a bit of therapy..."
Brian mentions in his book that, to relieve tension and for
he and John frequently cursed like longshoremen and called each other
sorts of vile things. When they first met the American hostages, he and
John thought their behavior put off the others. Interesting how they
used this tactic but were afraid their new acquaintances might not
Closer to the end of Anderson's book, he admitted that the
and pettiness amongst the other hostages got to be a bit much. He
thankful to have John there when things got tense.
was Colin's portrayal of John that made me go looking for more
on the hostages, but the obvious affection and esteem both Brian and
felt for John has made me admire him apart from Colin. However, I still
picture Colin when I think of John, perhaps because there is a strong
I've got to go look for the McCarthy-Morrell book. It will be
to read how John viewed many of these events.
I really never planned to read John and Jill's book, but your
made it compelling. That often happens to me on this board. I didn't
FP at all the first time. After reading all the comments, I reviewed it
and saw it in a different light.
Thanks everyone for sharing comments from the life stories of the real
participants. I'm finding them very interesting. Not having much time
reading lately, I appreciate the Cliff Notes.
I have just finished watching Hostages again and I was struck
by a feeling
that an important scene is missing. Did anyone else feel just a bit
that the film did not show a reunion scene between Brian and John?
they thought it would be too maudlin, but I would have liked to see
welcome John home.
I paid special attention to the Monopoly scene this time. It
the DB's back to perfection. Sorry, had to drool just a bit.
CF must be very good at Monopoly by now. He played it in Hostages and
I glad you don't mind references to the books. I've been a bit
that others might be annoyed if we continued to refer to related
we had read. This appears to have, unintentionally, become a film/book
discussion. I hope that's all right. The film got me interested in the
subject and the people. The books provided me with insights into the
and their experiences and helped me to understand why particular
behaved as they did in certain scenes. The film could not convey all
in only two hours. After reading the books, it's been interesting to go
back and watch the movie again and put some of these things
(Jana) Did anyone else feel just a bit cheated that the
not show a reunion scene between Brian and John?
I felt they should have added that scene as well. I'm sure you're right
about why John's reunion with Brian was left out, but the story did
incomplete without it. After all, the film showed us more about John's
relationship with Brian than his relationship with Jill. I thought it
rather strange that, when John arrived at the airport, Brian appeared
be on the tarmac while Jill and others greeted him inside. You would
thought John's family and Jill would have wanted Brian there, as I'm
they would have met. It was common for the released hostages to contact
the loved ones of those still being held. I like to think they
the special bond the two had formed and allowed Brian to be the first
greet him. Then they welcomed him home following that. This is purely
rationalization of course, but it works for me;-)
Wanda, I am very grateful that you started this discussion of
It has gotten me interested in reading the book.
Everyone's comments from the memoirs have been fascinating. It's
to see what the screenwriter chose to use.
Anderson, Terry a. Den of Lions: Memoirs of Seven Years. New
Crown Publishers, Inc., 1993. (ISBN 0-517-59301-7)
Keenan, Brian. An Evil Cradling. New York: Viking, 1993. (ISBN
McCarthy, John, and Jill Morrell. Some Other Rainbow. London:
Press, 1993 (ISBN 0-593-02729-9)
Sutherland, Tom, and Jean Sutherland. At Your Own Risk: An American
Chronicle of Crisis and Captivity in the Middle East. Golden,
Fulcrum Publishing, 1996. (ISBN 1-55591-255-9)