Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009)

red riding the year of our lord 1974 poster 2009 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting story, good cast

Story is difficult to follow without some help

Movie Info

Movie Name: Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1974

Studio: Channel 4 Film

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  February 28, 2009 (Premiere)/March 5, 2009 (UK)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

red riding the year of our lord 1974 andrew garfield reporter

Oh Peter Parker…how you’ve fallen

Young reporter Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield) has been tasked with covering the disappearance of a girl for The Yorkshire Post in Northern England.  When Dunford realizes that there can be at least two other cases potentially tied to the disappearance, he realizes that the story could be bigger than expected.  As his friend Barry Gannon (Anthony Flanagan) wars Eddie that things are more dangerous than Eddie suspects, Eddie finds himself in a relationship with Paula Garland (Rebecca Hall) whose daughter’s disappearance destroyed her life.  When Eddie learns that the crimes have a tie to industrialist John Dawson (Sean Bean), Eddie might not be able to escape.

Directed by Julian Jarrold, Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1974 is the first part of a BBC television movie trilogy.  The mystery thriller is based upon the 2000 David Peace novel Red Riding:  Nineteen Seventy-Four (Peace also helped adapt it) and aired on Channel 4 on March 5, 2009 to positive reviews.

I saw the Red Riding Trilogy not long after it came out.  I enjoyed it but struggled with the series in general that asks a lot from the viewers.  With a lot of names, places, and characters, Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1974 is worth seeking out but almost requires more than one viewing or a guide to help viewers through.

red riding the year of our lord 1974 andrew garfield sean bean

Sean Bean…things don’t usually end well for you

The story is dense and there is some undercurrent that feels uniquely British.  There is a strong Country-vs-City and North-vs-South bias going on in the story that isn’t as tangible to overseas viewers, but is similar to general conflicts between city and small town.  This his heaped on top of a story with a lot of names, a lot of characters, and some implied plotlines that can easily be missed by viewers.  Despite this, it is a compelling story (what you do understand with a basic viewing).  While you can see Garfield’s character is getting too deep and too blinded by his quest for justice, he can’t.  It is like a train wreck in slow motion that cannot be stopped.

What is ironic about the movie is that Red Riding came out before Amazing Spider-Man which cast Garfield as a teenager.  If you happened to see this before (or even after) the first movie, it made teen Peter Parker hard to believe with Garfield playing a grittier, older role here.  Sean Bean of course shows up as a quasi-villain and of course has a typical Sean Bean ending.  The supporting cast is strong, but Garfield is the hook and does a good job.

red riding the year of our lord 1974 warren clarke andrew garfieldVisually, the movie is pretty typical to a BBC film (at least the more modern ones).  There is a gritty 1970s vibe to the movie due to the period setting, but there is also that real English industrial countryside look.  It isn’t the cottages and sheep pastures that foreigners often imagine and it is more like a subdivision mixed in with the green.  The movie doesn’t shirk from making it a bit more artsy than a standard film by utilizing some stylized shots and framing.

Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1974 is a good start to an interesting trilogy.  The original novel series was a “Quartet” with Red Riding:  Nineteen Seventy-Seven released in 2000 following this entry, but the film series jumps from 1974 to 1980 with a mostly new cast and a new story that ties in to the events of this film (with some actors reprising roles).  This is a different concept for some viewers, and watching one film isn’t really an option…to get more answers, you must continue.  Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1974 is followed by Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1980 also in 2009.

Related Links:

Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1980 (2009)

Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1983 (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response