Angela's Ashes is a 1999 drama film based on the memoir of the same name by Frank McCourt. An international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland,[1] it was co-written and directed by Alan Parker, and stars Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens, and Michael Legge, the latter three playing the Young, Middle and Older Frank McCourt respectively.


Angela's Ashes tells the story of Frank McCourt and his childhood after his family are forced to move from the United States back to Ireland because of financial difficulties and family problems caused by his father's alcoholism. The film chronicles young McCourt's life in Limerick, Ireland, during his childhood in the 1930s and 1940s, the difficulties that arose, and Frank's way of earning enough money to return to the land of his dreams: America.



Although set in Limerick, many street scenes were filmed in Cork. For example, the 'fleas in the mattress' scene was filmed at Farren Street, Blackpool and other scenes were shot at Roche's Buildings, Lower John Street and Barrack Street.[2]


With an estimated $25 million budget,[3] the film grossed $13,042,112 in the US,[4] making it a box office bomb.

Angela's Ashes currently holds a 52% 'rotten' rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, and the consensus "In spite of its attempts to accurately record Frank McCourt's memoirs, the onscreen adaptation fails to capture any of the drama or humor of his life" (though the audience rating is considerably higher, at 82%.)[5] However, Michael Legge was praised for his portrayal of the adolescent Frank. In particular, he was said to excel in his role as an innocent teenager growing up with typical coming of age rites involving sexuality, maturity and peer pressure in a Catholic Irish setting.

Differences from the book

  • In the book, the opening paragraph describes Angela's upbringing. It tells how Angela's brother Pat became developmentally disabled by being dropped on the ground by Angela's father throwing him in the air, and that Angela's pregnant mother told him to leave, so he "ran out the door and didn't stop till he got to Australia". The film omits this.
  • In the film, when Angela suggests naming Frank's new brother Alphonsus, and Frank exclaims that it's a stupid name, Aggie smacks the back of Frank's head. In the book, Angela slaps Frank across the face so hard he reels backwards.
  • In the film, Frank says that Irish dancers look like they have metal rods up their arses, but in the book it is Frank's father who says that.
  • The end of the film shows Frank sailing past the Statue of Liberty as he arrives in New York City. In the book he lands at Poughkeepsie.


  • Winner Best Picture – Irish Film and Television Awards
  • Winner Best Costume Design – Irish Film and Television Awards (Consolata Boyle)
  • Winner Best Director – Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Audience Award) (Alan Parker)
  • Winner Best Original Score – Las Vegas Film Critics Society (John Williams)
  • Winner Best Actress – London Film Critics Circle (Emily Watson)
  • Nominee Best Original Score – Academy Awards (John Williams)
  • Nominee Best Original Score – Golden Globes (John Williams)
  • Nominee Best Actress – BAFTA (Emily Watson)
  • Nominee Best Cinematography – BAFTA (Michael Seresin)
  • Nominee Best Production Design – BAFTA (Geoffrey Kirkland)
  • Nominee Best British Film – Empire Awards
  • Nominee Best British Actor – Empire Awards (Robert Carlyle)
  • Nominee Best Actress – Irish Film and Television Awards (Emily Watson)
  • Nominee Best Actor – Irish Film and Television Awards (Robert Carlyle)
  • Nominee Newcomer of Year – London Film Critics Circle (Michael Legge)


The film soundtrack was composed and conducted by John Williams, and features songs by Billie Holiday and Sinéad O'Connor. Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2000 for his score.

Home media

Angela's Ashes was originally released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on VHS and DVD format on 17 July 2000, via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.[6][7] The DVD set retained the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with Dolby Digital 5.1, and included a number of special features, including, a Behind the Scenes Featurette, Cast and Crew Interviews, Alan Parker Commentary, Frank McCourt Commentary, and 2 Trailers. This set was again re-issued in 2003 with identical artwork, while the only difference being the redesigning of the BBFC certificate logo, which updated in 2002. A DVD box set release was made available on 8 September 2008, which included the DVD and the original book.[8]

The film was additionally released within multiple sets, including a 3-VHS set which features the film with Billy Elliot and Stepmom, on 15 September 2003,[9] and a "Back 2 Back" VHS edition with Billy Elliot on 16 February 2004,[10] The set containing the film with Billy Elliot and Stepmom was released once again as part of a "3 Disc Anthology" DVD set on 2 October 2005.[11]

On 31 October 2016, Angela's Ashes received its first-ever Blu-ray release via Final Cut Entertainment. It contains a newly remastered HD transfer, with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, as well as LPMC 2.0 audio. All special features from the previous DVD releases are included, with the inclusion of a new feature, "Alan's Ashes" - an interview with Alan Parker.[12][13]

In the United States and Canada, the distribution rights are held by Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment. Angela's Ashes was first released on VHS format,[14] while the film was released to DVD as part of Paramount's "Widescreen Collection" on 18 July 2000, and contained a non-anamorphic widescreen letterboxed version.[15] A "Special Edition" VHS was made available on 5 December 2000.[16] The DVD received a re-issue on 20 September 2017.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "Angela's Ashes (EN)". Lumiere. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  2. ^ Blackpool Historical Society, Cork
  3. ^ Angela's Ashes. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  4. ^ Angela's Ashes. boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  5. ^ Angela's Ashes at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Angela's Ashes (VHS) (1999)". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  7. ^ "Angela's Ashes [DVD] [2000]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "Angela's Ashes DVD". Amazon.co.uk. 
  9. ^ "Billy Elliot/Angela's Ashes/Stepmom [VHS]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Billy Elliot/Angela's Ashes [VHS]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  11. ^ "Angela's Ashes / Stepmom / Billy Elliot [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  12. ^ "Angela's Ashes Blu Ray [Blu-ray]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  13. ^ "Angela's Ashes Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  14. ^ Angela's Ashes. Amazon.com. ASIN 630587204X. 
  15. ^ Angela's Ashes. Amazon.com. ASIN 0792163087. 
  16. ^ "Angela's Ashes VHS". Amazon.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  17. ^ "Angela's Ashes". Amazon.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 

External links