A farewell to innocence

A boy is surrounded in the street by a raging mob in a scene from "Belfast."
In just seconds, Buddy’s life is thrown into upheaval when a mob rampages through the street he’s just been playing on in “Belfast.”
(Rob Youngson / Focus Features)

In Kenneth Branagh’s personal novella, “Belfast,” an emotional narrative propels us into the Northern Ireland conflict through the eyes of a boy named Buddy (Jude Hill), whose once-peaceful neighborhood has been taken over by riots. Through the chaos, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos unconventionally tells the story by composing an immersive frame that continually circles Buddy with one-shot action that’s uncut and unedited. “This scene is the critical mass point for Buddy’s life, the transformative moment of his existence,” says Zambarloukos. “It was Ken’s changing point in real life and the reason for making this film. Ken always described this moment as his world turning inside out. I had a similar experience when I was 4 and Turkey invaded Cyprus; I had to live with military presence in close proximity to me ever since. I was never the same.”—Daron James