DVD/CD Review: A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof On W.B. Yeats

STUDIO: Network Ireland TV/MVD | DIRECTOR: Gerry Hoban
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 9, 2018 | PRICE: DVD/CD $27.34
BONUSES: additional commentaries and readings, two songs based on Yeats poems by Bono and Elvis Costello, more
SPECS: NR | 98 min. + extras | Documentary/Spoken Word | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Fans of poetry, celebrities reading poetry, or good old-fashioned travelogues will find much to appreciate in A Fanatic Heart: Geldof on Yeats.

Co-written by musician Bob Geldof (the organizer of Live Aid) and biographer Roy Foster, A Fanatic Heart showcases the easygoing direction of respected documentarian Gerry Hoban as viewers are treated to a variety of programs that pay loving homage to beloved Irish poet William Butler Yeats.  A feature-length documentary kicks things off with a walking tour (conducted by Geldof himself) through Yeats’ Ireland and a biography fleshing out the man behind the poet—one whose contributions to the canon can only be rightly contextualized alongside his equally important contributions to the Irish independence movement as a Protestant nationalist.

Bob Geldof in A Fanatic Heart

Next up are nearly three hours of writers, actors, musicians, and various other smarties and creative types reciting Yeats’ works and offering insights and commentaries—a truly dazzling Who’s Who of UK-based talent, including Sting, Noel Gallagher, Van Morrison, Shane MacGowan, Liam Neeson, Stephen Fry, Dominic West, Richard E. Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Farrell, journalist Olivia O’Leary and comedian Ardal O’Hanlon.  Highlights here include novelist Edna O’Brien’s recitation of “Sailing to Byzantium” (perhaps best-known for giving us the immortal opening line: This is no country for old men) and our own personal favorite Yeats poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” as voiced by actor Tom Hollander.

The collection also includes two original songs based on Yeats poems—“Mad as the Mist and Snow,” written by Bono in the ‘80s and performed here again; and Elvis Costello performing his own 1994 song, “A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety.”

All in, this incisive and moving collection of docs, features and speeches rises is more than a mere passion project—it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in Yeats, 20th-Century literature, or finding deeper insights into the state of Irish politics today.


Buy or Rent A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof On W.B. Yeats

About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).