By Tim Kelleher – 1851 Staff
The Siege of Jadotville is an underdog story. This Netflix Original movie is based on a true story that took place in September of 1961 in the Katanga Province of the Democratic-Republic of the Congo. I’ll start with summarizing the actual events. In real life, there was a large mercenary group that was working for the seceded State of Katanga. The state of Katanga seceded from the DR Congo in 1960 and had become fairly aggressive around its surrounding states. The United Nations had decided to send in Swedish, Indian and most notably, Irish forces to keep the region stable but not to get involved by any means necessary, engaging only if absolutely needed. The Irish troops are the featured ones in this movie.
Approximately 150 Irishmen were deployed to Jadotville. Their commissioned officer (CO) was Lieutenant Pat Quinlan. Quinlan was seen as a wise man, both of politics and of war, although never seeing the battlefield in person. Quinlan, portrayed by Jamie Dornan, had a wise quote, saying, “The thing is politicians, they don’t understand tactics; and soldiers, they don’t understand strategy, but Caesar, he understood both.” Proving how Caesar was so successful and smart.
It would seem that Quinlan was much similar in that sense. Soon after arriving in Jadotville, the Irish quickly learned that they weren’t very welcomed. In fact, the militants and their “leaders” hired french legionnaires to lead their mercenary forces against UN forces. The fight lasted about six days, not one Irishman was killed, and few were injured.
It is a miracle or perhaps incredible tactics that the Irish, with just 150 men, held off opposing forces of upwards of 4,000 aggressors for 6 days until they ran out of ammunition. All the while requesting and being denied reinforcements from an Irish doctor by the name of Conor Cruise O’Brien, a future Irish Senator. A politician refusing any help to the soldiers out in the field underneath their order, protecting assets to said politician, sounds really familiar.
After watching the movie several times I have found myself loving it more and more every time. There are small bits of comedy even. When Quinlan gets shot in the shoulder, one of his men, Charles Cooley, asks, “What’s it like getting shot?” Quinlan responds, “I wouldn’t recommend it.” Not hysterical but small bits of comedy.
As far as the equipment for the movie, everything looks accurate to the time, the uniforms, weaponry, cars, everything, a very well done job in that aspect. Casting was superb as well. Just about all of the Irishmen were actual Irish. Attention to detail is what make a movie like this particularly very good. The historical accuracy seems to hold true as well. They held off for several days, being attacked through both land and air, getting captured and eventually released. What is absolutely terrible is that the politician and general hid the heroic actions of these men and they were shunned when they returned home. Treated as if they were deserters. It wasn’t until about 2005-2006 when the men were honored, nine years after Pat Quinlan passed away.
This tense, Benghazi-esque, situation provided an incredible movie plot brought to home theatres via Netflix. This Netflix Original movie was brought to life from first time director Richie Smyth. This movie was based off of the book of the same name written by one of the Irishmen involved, Declan. Kevin Bordbin helped write the movie adaptation as well. This incredible and gripping movie has earned itself a perfect rating from myself. You can find it on Netflix!