The Siege of Jadotville (film)

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The Siege of Jadotville
Siege of Jadotville Netflix poster.jpg
Netflix release poster
Directed byRichie Smyth
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyNikolaus Summerer
Edited byAlex Mackie
Music byJoseph Trapanese
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • July 10, 2016 (2016-07-10) (Galway Film Festival)
  • September 19, 2016 (2016-09-19) (Ireland)
  • October 7, 2016 (2016-10-07) (Worldwide)
Running time
108 minutes
South Africa

The Siege of Jadotville is a 2016 action-war film directed by Richie Smyth[2] and written by Kevin Brodbin. An Irish-South African production, the film is based on Declan Power's book, The Siege at Jadotville: The Irish Army's Forgotten Battle (2005), about an Irish Army unit's role in the titular Siege of Jadotville during the United Nations Operation in the Congo in September 1961.[3]

First screened at the 2016 Galway Film Festival,[4] the film received a limited cinema distribution in Ireland in September 2016.[5] It had simultaneous worldwide distribution on Netflix and in a number of US iPic Theaters during October 2016.[6][7] It won three Irish Film & Television Awards, including Best Director.


The film opens with the execution of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the outbreak of civil war. As the mineral rich State of Katanga secedes under the leadership of Moise Tshombe, United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld assigns Conor Cruise O'Brien to head up a UN peacekeeping mission. Privately, Hammarskjöld tells O'Brien that the Katanga crisis could potentially trigger World War III and orders the Irish diplomat to take offensive action.

Meanwhile, Irish Army Commandant Pat Quinlan commands an infantry company of Irish peacekeepers who arrive at the UN compound near Jadotville. After examining the compound, Quinlan decides that it is wide open to attack and orders his men to dig trenches and defensive fighting positions.

While buying food in the nearest town, Quinlan meets French mercenary Rene Faulques, who has been hired by the mining companies allied to Tshombe's government. Afterwards, he visits the estate of a Belgian colonist, Madam LaFongagne, who tells him that Jadotville contains the world's richest uranium deposits.

Meanwhile, O'Brien orders UN forces to launch an attack against Government buildings held by the Katangese in Elizabethville. While Indian peacekeepers are attempting to seize the city's radio station, 30 unarmed Katangese radio operators and employees are killed by gunfire and grenades. O'Brien orders the incident to be swept under the rug.

In retaliation, Faulques receives orders to attack Jadotville. Katangese forces and mercenaries under Faulques' command attack and besiege the Irish. During a brief ceasefire, Faulques vainly demands Quinlan's surrender.

Quinlan refuses, and his company is attacked repeatedly in separate waves by the Katangese and mercenary forces. They kill a total of 300 enemy soldiers, and wound 1,000 enemy soldiers, with zero deaths and only 16 wounded for the Irish. Irish, Swedish and Indian UN peacekeepers attempt to reinforce "A" Company but are repelled by separatists. An effort to supply water and evacuate the wounded troops by helicopter fails as separatists shoot down the helicopter.

After numerous extended attack waves, the Irish company is forced to surrender to Faulques's troops after running out of ammunition, food, and drinking water. They are held in a Katangese prison for about a month, then are freed in a prisoner exchange deal and allowed to go home. After arriving home, Quinlan is informed by General McEntee that "A" Company's surrender causes shame to the UN and the higher ups want to bury the truth of the siege for political reasons. Only in 2005 did a full review of the siege clear the soldiers' reputations.

Selected cast[edit]


The film is based on Declan Power's non-fiction book, The Siege at Jadotville: The Irish Army's Forgotten Battle (2005).[8][9] It covers the Siege of Jadotville, a conflict involving Irish Army UN Peacekeepers and Katangese forces during the Congo Crisis in September 1961.[5][3]

The film was produced by an Irish production company, Parallel Films, for Netflix.[5][10] Described as an "Irish/South African co-production",[10] some of the cast were put through a training camp in South Africa before filming. "There's nothing worse than watching actors acting like they're in an action movie, pretending to run upstairs with guns and look serious," said director Ritchie Smythe. "The best way to get them to do that realistically is just to train them to be soldiers, so I did."[11] Filming occurred at locations in South Africa and in Ireland during 2015.[12][13]

Actor Jamie Dornan said the real veterans "didn't get the recognition they deserved. In fact the opposite. They got that term Jadotville Jacks. They have had to live with that and they appreciate any light that can be shone on their heroics."[14]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 64% based on 11 reviews (as of 2021), and an average Metacritic user rating of 7.6/10.[15][16]

Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times called it "a gripping drama".[17] Keith Uhlich of The Hollywood Reporter described the battlefield scenes as an "impressive spectacle", but said that the non-battle scenes were less so, and the conclusions "too rushed".[18] Robert Yaniz Jr. of We Got This Covered rated the film 70%, observing: "Though it doesn't break any new ground, The Siege of Jadotville is a well-crafted piece of filmmaking that investigates the often-contentious relationship between politics and war".[19] Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times rated the film 50%, describing it as: "A scrappy war flick with a fair amount of combat suspense but a whole lot of clichéd dialogue".[20]

In an opinion piece published on in April 2021, Swapna Kona Nayudu noted issues with how the role of Indian forces was represented in the movie.[21]


Awards Category Recipients Result
Irish Film & Television Awards[22] Best Film The Siege of Jadotville Nominated
Best Director Richie Smyth Won
Best Script Kevin Brodbin Nominated
Best Actor Jamie Dornan Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jason O'Mara Won
Best Sound The Siege of Jadotville Nominated
VFX The Siege of Jadotville Won


  1. ^ "THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE". British Board of Film Classification.
  2. ^ "The Siege of Jadotville (2016)". IMDb. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "28th Galway Film Fleadh - July 2016 - The Siege of Jadotville". Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  4. ^ "Jamie Dornan's latest film wins standing ovation at Galway Film Fleadh". Irish Independent. July 11, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "'The Siege of Jadotville' to receive limited cinema release". Irish Times. September 12, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  6. ^ "First trailer of Siege of Jadotville is nail-biting". RTÉ. September 10, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  7. ^ "National Association of Theatre Owners Chief Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Deal With iPic". Variety. October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016. [..] iPic [..has..] a theatrical foothold on 15 U.S. locations. That will be particularly important for Netflix films that need some kind of theatrical run to qualify for awards. IPic will release the war thriller "The Siege of Jadotville," starring Jamie Dornan ("Fifty Shades of Grey"), on Oct. 7
  8. ^ "The True Story of the Heroic Battle That Inspired the New Netflix Film The Siege of Jadotville". Time Magazine. July 27, 2016. [...] author and military expert Declan Power, on whose book, Siege at Jadotville, the new movie is based.
  9. ^ "Film 'Siege of Jadotville' to reveal heroism of Irish troops". Irish Times. August 9, 2014. [...] military writer Declan Power – on whose book, The Siege of Jadotville, the film will be based
  10. ^ a b "Parallel Films' "The Siege of Jadotville" to Star Jamie Dornan". Irish Film & Television Network. August 6, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Saunders, Tristram Fane (October 7, 2016). "'I really didn't want to see Jamie Dornan naked': The Siege of Jadotville's director on filming Ireland's secret war". The Telegraph.
  12. ^ "Scriptwriter Kevin Brodbin on writing 'The Siege of Jadotville'". Irish Film & Television Network. September 23, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  13. ^ "The Siege of Jadotville". Irish Post. September 13, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Clarke, Donald (September 19, 2016). "The Siege of Jadotville: How Ireland almost had its own Alamo". Irish Times.
  15. ^ The Siege of Jadotville. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  16. ^ "The Siege of Jadotville". Metacritic. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  17. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (September 28, 2016). "'The Siege of Jadotville' on Netflix Rediscovers a Faded Footnote". New York Times.
  18. ^ Keith Uhlich (October 6, 2016). "'The Siege of Jadotville': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  19. ^ Yaniz, Robert Jr. (October 9, 2016). "The Siege Of Jadotville Review". We Got This Covered.
  20. ^ Abele, Robert (October 6, 2016). "Review: Forgotten battle told in 'The Siege of Jadotville'". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ "India's under-appreciated role as sword arm of the UN". April 28, 2021.
  22. ^ "IFTA FILM & DRAMA NOMINEES 2017". Irish Film and Television Academy. Retrieved April 10, 2017.

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