Five Minutes of Heaven
2009 film by Oliver Hirschbiegel
To face the future, they must face the past.
- For me to talk about the man I have become, you need to know about the man I was. I was fourteen when I joined the tartan gangs and I was fifteen when I joined the UVF. At that time, don't forget, there were riots on the streets every week; petrol bombs everyday, and that was just in our town. When you got home and switched on the TV, you could see what was happening in every other town as well, and it was like we were under siege. Fathers and brothers and friends were being killed in the streets, and the feeling was we had to do something. We're all in this together and we all have to do something. The thing you have to remember; what you have to understand, is the mindset. Once you have signed up to terror, and joined the organization; the group, your mind closes right down. It becomes only our story that matters, not their story - the Catholics. It's only *my* people that are being killed, and here suffering and that need looking after. Catholics being killed? Doesn't enter your head. And so when I went up to Sammy, our local commander, and told him I wanted to kill a Catholic man, it wasn't a wrong thing for me to do. In my head, it was the proper; the just; the fair; the good thing to do, and so, it was easy. When I got to the house, there was a boy in the street. I didn't expect him to be there, but, there he was. I only looked at him for a moment because I had a job to do, but if I had known that he was Jim's brother, I would have shot him as well. It was in the mindset. It was tit-for-tat, and perhaps one more - why not? That's what it was like. I was only seventeen. I'd seen my people fighting ever since I was a wee boy. You'd take sides with your friends as a boy, but we weren't just throwing stones over the fence - we were shooting guns. What I want to tell people; what society must do is to stop people getting to the point where they join the group. Because when you get to that point it's too late. No-one's gonna stop you. No-one's gonna change your mind. And once you're in, you will do anything. You will kill anyone on the other side, because it's right to do it. Once your man has joined the group, society has lost him. And what he needs to hear are voices on his own side, stopping him before he goes in. There were no voices on my side, not on my side of the town, not in my estate. No-one was telling me anything other than that killing is right. It was only in prison when I heard that other voice. And the Muslims now - you know the kids now are like I was then. They need to hear those voices now, stopping them from thinking that killing is good. They need their own people to say "no". That's where they need to hear it, and that's where I would put my money - on making those voices heard in every mosque in the country. When I got home my Mother and Father were watching the TV and it came on the news that the man I had shot was dead. I was so excited, I couldn't wait for when I would get my congratulations. Sammy was gonna come knocking at my door, he was going to lead me out into the street and proudly walk me into the bar, and everybody was gonna stand up and applaud. Me, I would have shot anyone for that. And that is why I talk to anybody who will listen now to tell them to stop boys like me thinking that to shoot an innocent and decent man in the head is a good thing.
- [voiceover] I sit in meeting rooms all over the world and I help men to live with what they've done to a wife, a child, a stranger, a neighbour, how to live with that act of violence that's, you know, always there inside us. But I can't help myself. Sometimes I feel that this preacher is just the man I've become so that I can cheat my way through my life.
- Get rid of me, Joe...so that when you wake up in the morning, it's not me in your head, it's your daughters. Don't give them me. Go home and tell them that you've killed me off. That I'm gone, forever. I'm nothing. Nothing. Go home and tell them that and live your life for them.
- [voiceover, about Alistair] Swanning around the world talking about your feelings. A ticket to paradise. For killing a man! I mean, where would he have been without me? 40 years in the factory in Lurgan making egg cartons like the rest of us. Aye, not him! He can make a living telling the Pope, and the Queen, the Dalai fucking Lama how it feels to kill a man. How it feels, the suffering I have, the burden I carry. Why should you get women in pastel shades and rosy perfumes giving you tea and buns and wine from fucking Chile, just so's you can tell them how it feels to be putting three bullets into my brother's head?
- [voiceover] She's been staring at me for 33 years, do you know that? What it's like? Your mother blaming you for 33 years? Three bullets went into his head. You'd know that, though. Did you know another one hit a picture of a cat on the wall? It wasn't me who broke that picture, I never got the blame for that one, and if it wasn't me who broke the picture on the wall, it wasn't me who killed my brother. I didn't kill him like she said I did. It was you. It was you in the car arriving at her house and shooting three bullets into her son's head, making her grieve the way she did, blaming me the way she did. Well, I'm the one in the car now, visiting you. I'm the one in the car now. I'm the one in the car now.
- [voiceover] I can do handshakes, Michael! And I can do victim. I can do handshake and victim both at the same time. But I've made a decision on this one. Reconciliation? You have no idea. A handshake? For killing my brother? For me taking the blame? 33 years of that? What do you think I am, a joke? If ever a man deserved a knife run through him, that scum of the earth. Truth and reconciliation? I'm going for revenge.
- [to Vika] The trouble with me is, I've got all the wrong feelings. But him! Oh, his feelings! They are just right, just perfect! He did it in cold blood, but now look at the man he has become! What is it like to kill a man," they all ask him? "Well, you have to understand..." And off he goes again, telling them all about this and that. But hats off to him, he's cracked it! He knows they all love to shake hands with a killer.
- Alistair's Chauffeur: And is it just the brother you're meeting?
- Alistair: Aye. Aye... It's... His father died eight months later. A heart attack. A broken heart, the family said. His brother, Daniel, it was an overdose with him. After that, his mother, she died. It's what happens. It's often what happens to the family, you know. It's the part people don't understand, don't realise. What happens after.
- Joe: So! The man shot my brother three times in the head. The man is having the life of Riley. What should I do? Do I shake his hand or do I kill him?
- Vika: Well, killing him wouldn't be good for him.
- Joe: For sure of that!
- Vika: But it wouldn't be good for you either.
- Joe: Oh, not good for me? My five minutes of heaven! How would that be not good for me?
- Alistair: [voiceover] 33 years that boy has been living in this head, standing there, staring at me, looking up at me, never leaving me. Never leaving. Every morning waiting for me, and I know he'll be there for always. I don't know what to do any more. How to deal with this. I feel I've come to the end of what I can take. "Time will heal," they say. What everyone says about everything. The years just get heavier. Why don't they tell you that? Nobody tells you that.
- Vika: Can I get you anything?
- Alistair: Why do you think he didn't come in?
- Vika: Too frightened?
- Alistair: You think he really wanted to meet me?
- Vika: I think he wanted to kill you.