‘Powerful And Challenging’


Further to controversy over Detainment, the short movie about the murder of Jamie Bulger, which is up for an Oscar nomination this Sunday.

Jamie’s mother, Denise Fergus has asked for it to be withdrawn from Academy consideration.

Cast member Morgan C Jones writes:

I know it’s not an easy watch (by any means) and we certainly all approached it with the greatest respect, aware of the gravity of the piece, though never dreaming it would go any further than festivals. These things never, ever, do.

Except this one did.

I think that it has comes down to the weight of the source material and the quite frankly astonishing lead performances by Leon Hughes and Ely Solan. These are two truly impressive young men who I think we will be seeing a lot more of in the future

As to myself, after years in the business I can only say that Detainment was a powerful and challenging piece to work on. I play Phil Roberts (in character top right). A very experienced detective who (like them all) had to wrap his head around solving an unprecedented and particularly horrifying murder.

Normally, after I take off the other guy’s hat and wipe off the make up I have forgotten everything. Not this one though. It took months to leave my head.

As research ahead of being cast I listened to about 12 hours of the actual recorded interviews. They’re all available online with very little digging.

I remember as I was listening, horrified by the content, I wondered how come [Jamie’s parents] Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger hadn’t petitioned for their removal.

They reproduce much of this material in transcript form in their own self-penned books on the affair. The same transcripts we shot from.

I can’t begin to understand their personal loss and the horror that accompanies it to this day, but I really think that they and those who have supported their stand may be unwittingly shooting the messenger.

It’s a worthy film and recognition by the Academy is an honour


James Bulger: How family of tragic youngster hit out at new short film (Express)

52 thoughts on “‘Powerful And Challenging’

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    I’ve enormous sympathy for the victim’s parents, but do not agree with them about the making of this drama-documentary. These stories should be told, those which are already in the public domain. It’ll be a difficult watch for many, but I’m keen to see how it has been done.

        1. Mrs. May

          I’ll take that as a ‘no’. Your lustful, voyeuristic curiosity, supercedes James Bulger’s mother’s wishes, does it?

          How dare you, Vincent Lambe and the rest of the sorry gaggle of supporters for the production of this ‘film’, think for one moment, Denise Fergus should endure further insult, disregard and heartbreak, just to satisfy his (Lambe’s) greed and desperation for notoriety and your need for morbidly sick ‘entertainment’.

          1. millie st murderlark

            As a parent, I can say I don’t see anything wrong with Hoop’s comment, even if I don’t strictly agree with it.

            Calling it “lustful” or “voyeuristic” is perhaps a bit of a leap.

          2. Mrs. May

            How would you feel if I wanted to see a film about your little ones murder? Relevant question, look forward to your reply Mildred.

          3. millie st murderlark

            Not pleased I daresay.

            But if someone made a movie about it, I can’t really stop people from watching it. It doesn’t make it right, but people will do what people do.

      1. Janet, I ate my avatar

        she is a human being a parent doesn’t give you the monopoly on empathy, quite the opposite a lot of the time

        1. Janet, I ate my avatar

          BTW I do feel uncomfortable if the parents of this tragedy do express their unhappiness at the production

          1. Mrs. May

            Not very uncomfortable, though, eh Janet? Unbelievable.

            Its ok, don’t bother replying, I get that you don’t feel much, lucky you.

          2. Janet, I ate my avatar

            didn’t realize I needed to give a rating now with emotions
            I’m about a 7.5 uncomfortable
            I was a 10 took umbrage to your attack on spaghetti as an irrelevant argument even if I disagree with spaghetti on this point

          1. Mel

            It’s hard to know what she’s talking about. Rest assured though, Janet cannot think of herself as anything other than ‘sound’ on all issues. It’s all about what looks like the right stance rather than actually thinking anything through.

      2. Charlie

        I’m a father and have seen it. If everyone was to go looking for permission to make documentaries or movies nothing would be done. It’s a very good short. Fair play.

    1. TheQ47

      Especially when you consider that they used the exact same transcripts for their own books on this horrific murder.
      By all accounts, the movie does nothing to excuse anything done by these two boys, but it does, apparently, humanise them. And this is one of the issues that the director, Vincent Lambe, talked of, the fact that they are human. They did an evil thing, but does that make them completely evil?

      1. Jeffrey

        Looking at Venables being in Jail still today I’d say yes, and please, throw away the key for him. The other I dont know. Some things cannot get “fixed”

    2. Eoin

      + 1, if we can’t tell these stories, then Omagh would never have been made, nor Flight 93 or World Trade Center. We’re talking about an event 26 years ago, I can empathise with the parents and friends and there should probably have been better communication between film-makers and the family, but to ban it? No.

  2. kellMA

    I honestly don’t know if I would be able to watch this. I have never been good at watching things of this ilk e.g. Song for Raggy Boy greatly disturbed me. It lingered with me for days. I try and avoid things about child abuse since then. It is a horrific story. I honestly do not know how his parents go through each day. If something like that happened one of my girls I do not know how I would go on, but I suppose that is the human condition; to just go on.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      I know. I’ve watched Rob Delaney speaking with Russell Howard about losing his son to cancer and carrying on and I can’t stop thinking about it since. When I watch Catastrophe, I can’t get it out of my head. I know it’s different but it’s still horrendous.
      There is no way I would watch that movie and I don’t understand the thinking behind it. I don’t see what purpose it serves.

  3. Birdie

    I couldn’t watch it. The parents have said they didn’t want it made yet the filmmaker proceeded. To me that is just cruel and self serving. Bolly for you and all involved for getting an Oscar nomination, sure aren’t you great.

    I know I couldn’t create something like this if I knew it was disrespectful and upsetting to the people that really matter, the parents of a wee child that was killed horrifically.

    As someone who has no connection to the family, I get so upset at the thought of it all. I can’t even imagine the turmoil that this film has thrown at them. But hey you got an Oscar nomination…

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Would you also object to the photographer who captured ‘Nepalm Girl’ in Vietnam receiving a Pulitzer Prize?

      1. Birdie

        @Spaghetti Hoop
        From my quick Wikipedia read up, it appears that the photographer helped save the child’s life by taking her to the hospital and by highlighting the misery of the Vietnam War. They also stayed in regular contact.

        I don’t see the similarity to the above.

        1. Charlie

          Do you think every parent in Syria should be contacted before they put footage of dead kids on tv news?

        2. Spaghetti Hoop

          I do see a similarity in that the filmmakers are making known this tragic event to a wider audience, a new generation in fact. It reportedly examines how the police investigation team coped with the youngest offenders ever to be charges with murder, in terms of questioning, detention and rehabilitation – and how the culprits were regarded by society and the British media in the aftermath as ‘evil’. The crime had a deep impact on the entire community of Bootle, and indeed all over Britain. Parents rallied their support for the bereaved Bulgers, were reminded of the horrors of child abduction, and were also forced to think of the horror of their kids being young enough to murder. This really rattled society. So from a criminal psychology perspective, it could be an important insight into what motivated the two ten year olds and how bullying quickly became murder – something I believe very relevant 26 years on in schools and communities. The proceeds of the film will go to the Jamie Bulger Fund, poor little fella, RIP.

          I think it’s a worthy project anyway, and that we should be brave and look at crime, society, bullying and social responsibility without prejudice, with the purpose of preventing these horrific events every occurring, but at least ensuring we have the resources to professionally deal with them if they do.

          1. Spaghetti Hoop

            Well, firstly I didn’t see the footage, but I’m fully aware of the graphic content. I know it was shared with a voyeuristic motive. Because the victim was identifiable, those that shared it so soon after the accident showed zero respect for the fact that her family members may not have been informed. Senseless idiots.

            What they should’ve done was hand over the content to the Guards. Who also could have handled it better, in fairness. By coming down heavy and threatening to prosecute everyone shown holding a phone, they just generated more interest in the video. In other incidents, the Guards are first to request any information relating to a crash, including footage and photos to be handed over to aid the investigation. Perhaps if they’d made this appeal, in the interests of the victim’s family, instead of threatening to prosecute based on trawling through CCTV, it may have mitigated the damage and sheer defiance of those who shared it.

            Once the content was up and available, it required a human decision on whether to watch it or not. We all have that choice. A lot of tough stuff out there Boj – we can’t protect everyone.

          2. Boj

            Haha..very clever!
            Well I’ve made an award nominated motion picture out of it…eh….to highlight road safety..don’t shoot the messenger! You’re on the guestlist!

          3. Junkface

            Hey Boj, don’t compare Filmmaking of a difficult true story murder case, to a voyeurs ghoulish video of a road accident. No thought went into that at all! It was a horrible nasty thing to do.

          4. Boj

            Duly noted…a bad example. I do agree sort of with Hoop. The human decision to watch etc. But this was made pretty much made against the wishes of a mother of the murdered child! Where are all of the sensitivities and jumps to the defence of the mother for this one? Personally I don’t think this should have been made. As I said, the decision to watch it is totally up to the human.

      2. time please

        I’d imagine people would find the restaging of the photograph objectionable if the subject of the photograph said please don’t do this.

  4. time please

    Jamie Bulgers mother doesn’t want you to see it, she wants it withdrawn. she said it’s disrespectful to the memory of her son and it’s disrespectful to the Merseyside police who had to investigate this horror.
    but don’t let her put you off seeing it. What would she know?

  5. Catherine costelloe

    I would have thought the film makers first contact would have been Jamie’s parents. They weren’t consulted at all so very insensitive. I won’t watch it.

  6. Ian-O

    I had a real hard time watching ‘Room’ so not sure I would be watching this, ever.

    It was hard enough at the time to bend my mind around it, but best of luck to the film makers I guess?

  7. Ian-O

    I had a real hard time watching something like ‘Room’ so not sure I would be watching this, ever.

    It was hard enough at the time to bend my mind around it, but best of luck to the film makers I guess?

    1. Boj

      Two identical posts Ian-O….are you reflecting on yourself again???

      All I will say is…Imagine a film was made about the murder of your very own child AND against your wishes?
      “Shooting the messenger” indeed…

      1. Ian-O


        I do get that it must be terribly distressing for the mother – if I would be unable to watch it as an unconnected observer, then I cannot begin to imagine what it might be like for her to even contemplate it, let alone actually watch, which I am sure she never will?

        However, it was a notable event so was bound to be covered in film like this eventually – my best of luck message was me hoping they didn’t make a pigs ear out of it and make it some crass attempt to drum up shock value.

        But yeah, if I was Denise Fergus I would be absolutely distraught I guess?

    2. Mel

      yeah best of luck to them. No matter what the victim’s Mother thinks right? The filmmakers didn’t even consult with the parents. That’s breathtaking arrogance. But sure best of luck to them eh Ian?
      That’s more of a reflection on you than anything else Ian.
      I don’t think you do actually ‘get’ how distressing it is for Denise Fergus.

      I guess?

      1. Ian-O

        I guess you do!

        Best of luck to you too (with your next post, hopefully it won’t raise your blood pressure as much as this one did.)

  8. Mrs. May

    Mildred, you don’t always have to act the opion-less teenage girl, blindly supporting her dull friends’ arguments. Feck me, get a backbone, you’re out of school a while now.

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      ah stop I thought we had something special going, at least pick a different pronged attack for Milly,
      dig deeper, you got this

  9. Mrs. May

    Such a shocker that the same clowns that lambasted, humiliated, mocked and tore apart the woman who sent the thank-you card to Juncker last week, are the same twits defending each other and the making of this ‘film’.

    1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

      did you send that card ?
      couldn’t resist
      missed that post
      haven’t had time to pop in here as regularly….:(

  10. Holden MaGroin

    Does a person who has been subject to a horrific crime have the right to say “I don’t want you to create a film telling that same story”. Given that same crime became infamous for it’s cruelty and nature and so became a part of history.

    Which is more important, the right of a storyteller to tell a publicly relevant and historical story or the right of the victims to control the story and protect themselves from it.

  11. Junkface

    This is such a powerful and disturbing theme for a film. I didn’t know that the filmmakers did not contact the Bolger family first. That’s out of line, considering the topic of the film. On the other hand, this was a huge case at the time, which was covered so much it became part of the public’s consciousness, so in that regard the film tackles some very heavy psychological issues regarding crime and punishment of young children. How long should society wait before we tackle very difficult subject matter? Has it been 25 years since the crime? I’m leaning on the side of freedom of expression here, but I’m conflicted. Sometimes the best movies come from the most traumatic events in real life. Its a very difficult one to judge though, its all grey areas.

Comments are closed.