Rare TP McKenna film to be screened after original tapes recovered

Rare TP McKenna film to be screened after original tapes recovered

A FILM starring acclaimed Irish actor T P McKenna is to receive a rare British screening following the recovery of the movie's original tapes.

Monarch, a 1996 film starring the late actor about Henry VIII, was about to be disposed of by a film archivist after the reels containing the film's footage were left unclaimed in a film vault.

However it was recovered following an arduous search for the movies original tapes by the film’s director, London Irishman John Walsh.

The Double BAFTA nominee explained to The Irish Post: “I spoke to the archivist from the laboratory about projects that don’t get claimed. Worryingly, they said that projects that don’t get claimed they were allowed to dispose of. This film was next in line."

Walsh, whose parents hail from Co Tipperary, began his search for the original tapes after being asked by media company Freemantle to restore the movie and produce a high definition version of the film for a re-release next month.


He got more than he expected, however, when the project was located, and more than 52 cans of footage were found.

“It took quite a while to put it back together,” Walsh added. “Imagine putting in double glazing into a house but instead you had to dig new foundation to build a new house. It was incredibly extensive, but it was worthwhile.”

The story of Monarch unfolds around one night in the year of Henry VIII’s death in 1547, when the injured ruler arrives at a manor house that is closed for the season.

Played by McKenna, who starred alongside Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969 and Johnny Depp in The Libertine (2004), a vulnerable Henry VIII finds himself without the power and control of his palace after leaving England financially and morally bankrupt.

Jean Marsh, who appeared in Sir John Gielgud's Broadway production of Much Ado About Nothing and co-created and starred in LWT's Upstairs, Downstairs in the 1970s, plays the Queens.

The newly remastered film will receive its premiere at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, north London, where it will run from September 14.

Walsh is hopeful that the revamped Monarch will appeal to a new and wider audience 20 years on, and that the budget costume drama will offer a different take on a part of history.


“Often you can find out more about someone in a small time frame rather than you can if the two-hour film spans their whole life,” he said.

“That becomes little more than a montage of facts. If you confine a character to that time frame you can find out more about them.”

For Walsh, who grew up in Greenwich in south London, the release of the remastered film in Kilburn is significant, as he describes the setting as the “cultural home for the Irish people in London.”