I have been reading reviews for The Banshees of Inisherin and noticed that the epithet ‘fable’ has been a favourite of critics of the film. Some examples: 1, 2, 3, 4.

What qualities make The Banshees of Inisherin - as opposed to, say, something like The Departed or Casablanca (the last couple of films I watched before Banshees) - a fable? The landscape and background score are undeniably dreamy, but what is it about the narrative that suggests a fable? The puzzlingly extreme or “mythic” (another word I encountered often in reviews) actions of Colm? What else? What makes any film a fable?

1 Answer 1


A fable is a moral story [sometimes using animals as characters but not always].

I think the simple fact that the story is perceived as Oîrish* and includes the word 'banshee' in the title is prompting reviewers to jump for this easy description.

Personally, I feel they should have used the term allegory instead.
This would convey better the interplay between story of the two protagonists and the broader background taking place just outside the world they occupy - the mirroring of the two conflicts of differing size yet similar antagonism [trying not to plot-spoil.]

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Source and further reading - What’s the difference between allegory & fable?

*'Oîrish' is Irish as seen by Hollywood and reporters on Hollywood [to be sure, to be sure], as opposed to Irish, which is simply a result of being from Ireland.

The movie uses the Irish Civil War as both backdrop and allusion to the central plot.

  • I'm not too familiar with Irish history, unfortunately, but does the film's allegorical reach extend beyond the fact that its two main characters are feuding former friends?
    – Binny
    Jan 29 at 16:29
  • 1
    So : Martin McDonagh is Irish, but directed an Oîrish movie? Jan 30 at 13:09
  • 1
    That's not what I said. As far as I'm aware it wasn't him calling it a 'fable'.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 30 at 13:59
  • 3
    @EricDuminil The interpretation belongs to the audience, not the author. If anything, bits of the film can be seen as subtly trolling those who would see "Ireland" and expect leprechauns.
    – Sneftel
    Jan 30 at 14:27
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    @Binny It depends on how willing you are to connect dots. FWIW, I don't think the analogy does much to illuminate the plot or the political situation of the time.
    – Sneftel
    Jan 30 at 16:39

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