The Siege of Jadotville, Netflix’s first Irish Original, launches globally on Netflix this Friday, 7 October. Over 83 Million Netflix members worldwide will get the opportunity to see the true Irish story of bravery against impossible odds, a story that has been largely unknown until now.
The Siege of Jadotville thrillingly depicts the 1961 siege of a 150-strong Irish UN battalion under Commander Patrick Quinlan (Jamie Dornan) by 3,000 Congolese troops led by French and Belgian mercenaries working for mining companies. Guillaume Canet plays a French commander who sought to defeat Quinlan and his men.
“In Africa, the sun is life a furnace. It either melts you, or forges you.”
September 1961. The world will soon be on the brink of an unimaginable kind of warfare. Yet in the African state of Katanga in the newly-formed Republic of Congo, a small peacekeeping troop of Irish soldiers is sent by the UN to protect citizens caught in a brutal, immediate but far-reaching separatist revolt. At its core is control of Katanga’s resources, which includes more than half the world’s supply of copper and cobalt, minerals essential to the U.S. and USSR’s weapons-guidance systems.
The 150 men sent by Ireland — a country chosen for the UN mission because it “has never owned or tried to conquer another sovereign nation” — find themselves attacked by 3,000 Belgian and French mercenaries and tribesmen loyal to Katangese Prime Minister Moise Tshombe. Trapped in the Katanga city of Jadotville, the Irish, led by Comdr. Pat Quinlan (Jaime Dornan, “Fifty Shades of Grey”), are outgunned and outmanned. To survive the machine-gun and mortar fire, and keep the world from a superpower-backed global conflict, the battalion readies for a sacrifice they never expected to make.
In director Richie Smyth’s gripping, hair-trigger drama “The Siege of Jadotville,” that battle is given a human face, from the legendary commander Quinlan — the stoic, sharp Kerryman who led the Irish troops — to Sgt. Prendergast (Jason O’Mara, “Sons of Liberty”), holding the line against multiple aggressors, to Dr. Conor Cruise O’Brien (Mark Strong, “The Imitation Game,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), the Irish UN delegate nicknamed “The Cruiser” who initiated military action, to the French commander (Guillaume Canet, “Tell No One,” “Last Night”) bearing down on Jadotville. The personalities and perils of a dangerous place and time click into view as the explosive flashpoint of a war-torn decade.
Smyth’s vibrant visual sense has electrified videos from some of the world’s greatest musicians, including U2, Bon Jovi, Melissa Etheridge, and the Verve. His commercial work has included memorable campaigns for Guinness, PETA, Nike, Macy’s and Pepsi. Smyth’s company HēLō combines design, creative, technology, and storytelling to create seamless experiences in numerous media. For his feature debut “The Siege of Jadotville,” Dublin native Smyth worked with a script from Kevin Brodbin (“Constantine”) based on a book by Declan Power, himself a former Irish Army soldier.
The film is produced by Alan Moloney (“Brooklyn,” “Albert Nobbs,” “Byzantium”) for Ireland’s highly acclaimed Parallel Films. Filmed in Ireland and South Africa, “The Siege of Jadotville” will launch on Netflix on 7 October.
- The film is based on a true story and is about untested peacekeepers who have no choice but to defend themselves and fight for their survival when they find themselves under attack at Jadotville.
- This was not a glorified mission for honour. At its heart, this battle was about self-preservation and the real soldiers were incredibly courageous under the siege. They were up against impossible odds.
- We are honoured to bring this story to life and we hope we were able to do the story of Patrick Quinlan and the rest of the Irish UN battalion justice. Their story deserves recognition.
- The film is action-packed and gripping. It gives audiences a glimpse into the ugliness of combat – war is dirty, amoral and soul-crushing.
- 45 members of Company A, 35th Battalion are still alive to tell the tale.
- In 2005, the men were recognised as heroes as a commemorative plaque was unveiled in their honour at A Company’s base in Athlone, Co Westmeath. However The honour came too late for Comdt Pat Quinlan, who died in 1997.
- The Company A, 35th Battalion were honoured with a “Unit Citation” on Saturday, 17 September.
- Jamie Dornan plays Patrick Quinlan who was the Commander of the UN Battalion. He and his men were forced to defend Jadotville (a UN neutral territory) against Congolese, French and Belgian troops under impossible odds.
- Guillaume Canet plays Commander Falques who was a hired hand who leads his battalion of French mercenaries to attack Quinlan’s men and drive them out of Jadotville. Armed with more troops, weapons, and resources, he underestimates Quinlan and his men.
- Mikael Persbrandt plays the UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld gave permission for United Nations forces to launch a military offensive
- Mark Strong plays Dr. Connor Cruise O’Brien who was the key UN driver behind the scenes. He represents the complex political motives and machinations behind the siege.
- Conor Quinlan (Grandson of Commandant Pat Quinlan) plays the part of PJ.