IRA member Fergus bonds with Jody, who is a British soldier in their custody, despite the warnings of cohorts Jude and Maguire. Jody makes Fergus promise, should he be executed, he'll visit his girlfriend, Dil in London. When Fergus flees to the city, he seeks her out. Hounded by threats of retribution by former IRA colleagues, he finds himself now in love with her, only to be shattered by the truth. The violent ending is reminiscent of the fabled ending to the frog and the scorpion; a lack of regard to the nature of things and in revealing that truth.
The Crying Game story and its themes.
The Crying Game is a meditation on issues facing society and has layered levels of existential themes ripe for discussions. An action packed beginning portrays the betrayal of a local soldier Jordan, seduced by the IRA member Jude, who is then scurried away, to be held captive to be exchanged for the release of one of their members held in custody. Fergus is the far less militant member, and has the task of standing guard over the hooded prisoner Jordan in their hideout. He is totally different to cohorts Jude and Maguire. There are limits to how far he will go to achieve the revolutionary aims which are played out in the film.
Fable of the Frog and the Scorpion.
Jordan introduces the story of the frog and the scorpion to Fergus. The scorpion hitches a ride on the back of the frog to cross the flooded stream on the basis the scorpion tells him he will not sting the frog as both will then drown and perish.
But the scorpion cannot help himself, so he stings the frog halfway across and the frog asks the scorpion why he has stung him as both will now perish. The scorpion replies it is in his nature. He cannot help it.
One might say the frog is to blame because it was known it is in the nature of a scorpion to always sting those in close quarters. But what of the Scorpion ?, The answer to the fable is the Scorpion says it is in its nature to sting, so that one might think it is not his fault. But as the scorpion said it is in his nature to sting and he cannot help himself, surely he also was at fault because he was untruthful in saying he would not sting the Frog. Even so the disaster was not because he did not tell the truth, but rather the frog relying on the scorpion when he knew it was in his nature to sting. This is one of the underlying themes to the film.
An unlikely Bond.
Jordan convinces Fergus to take off his hood, complaining he cannot breathe, to which Fergus agrees, after conferring with the other terrorists. Already we see the essential essence of Fergus, who feels for his prisoner’s discomfort, to ignore the consequences of possibly being identified later.
A deep relationship is then established between the two who talk about common interests in life, cricket and the like, whose images then recur throughout the film. Fergus agrees (taking Jordon’s photo) to tell his sweetheart Dil, he is thinking about her in this dark moment in time, if he was to subsequently loose his life.
The is in stark contrast to the other members of the group who become worried Fergus may lose his commitment to the IRA cause, for in the morning he will probably have to execute Jordan. They shield themselves from the emotional impact of what they are doing with the hooded face and by treating the personage of Jordan as a disposable object subservient to their unlimited commitment to the IRA clause.
However Jude is well aware of the nature of Fergus. But where Jude goes off course is in thinking she will be able to sway Fergus into adopting her way of thinking where there are no limits to her commitment to the cause.
In the morning Fergus takes Jordan out to be executed, but he runs ahead knowing that it is not in Fergus’s nature to shoot him in the back. The ensuing result is Jordan is killed as he runs in front of an oncoming army vehicle and the two central IRA members escape as their hideout is discovered and bombed.
Relationship with Dil
Fergus flees the scene and in due course makes contact with Dil to whom he finds himself both romantically inclined and at another level her protector. So, just as Jordan was, so now he feels that responsibility and his feelings are reinforced by the prior shared images that flash before his eyes. But the love he feels is subject to a dramatic end in an explosion of shock and horror when he realises Jill is in fact a man. This raises all sorts of questions about love and how we relate to that from an existential basis. At the very least it provides ample room for discussion on both the physical and mental aspects of both and how it plays out in societal attitudes.
Fergus finds an uneasy way through the relationship just as his two cohorts from the IRA again make contact and force him to agree to execute a judge as otherwise they will seek retribution.
Fergus has told Dil about his past association and she becomes aware of the plan and ties him to his bed. In the closing scenes Maguire guns down the judge, but is killed in the cross fire with police. Jude, on returning to the flat is killed by Dil but Fergus takes the wrap and is sentenced to prison. The film closes with Dil visiting Fergus in prison.
This evocative film shows the Satrean idea that our lives (essence) are the product of our life choices, and, during this time there are endless transformational possibilities.
The different layers to this complex film take one into a brief foray of racial issues to the political (IRA versus English) to pose many existential questions. There is ample opportunity to discuss these existential themes outside of the usual black and white categories, the physical and mental aspects to love and the fable of the frog and the scorpion.