WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, THE
In 1920 Ireland, the ordinary people of the land unite to form volunteer guerrilla armies to face the ruthless Black and Tan squads that are being shipped from Britain to block Ireland's bid for genuine independence. As the freedom fighters' bold tactics bring the British to breaking point, a treaty is declared. But, despite the apparent victory, civil war erupts and men who have fought side by side, now find themselves pitted against one another as enemies, in disagreement about the treaty signed with Britain. Some say it's not real freedom for the Irish, while others see it as a start.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
History is desperately important if we are to learn from our mistakes, and films that dredge that harbour are always useful, even if they take sides. Ken Loach takes the side of the Irish republicans who wouldn't settle for anything less than total independence from the Brits in 1920. A treaty - forged after bloody battles and skirmishes in a vicious guerrilla war - under which they had to still swear allegiance to the Crown seemed no victory at all.
Writer Laverty and Loach tell the big picture through the particular stories of a handful of individuals who are at first comrades in arms, but soon find themselves at gun point over how to deal with a present that will unfold to become the future. The weight of the subject and the quality of the filmmaking earned Loach his first Palme d'Or (after several near misses and Jury Prizes) at Cannes in 2006.
It's a searing, sometimes harrowing film, with superb cinematography by Barry Ackroyd to take us into this world through visual magic. The awfulness of everyday life in poverty stricken Ireland is compounded by the vicious warring between the English army and the local lads. You might argue that Loach goes too far in portraying the English soldiers as real bastards and the resistance as heroic young poets, but that's exactly how history is often written: from one perspective, and that perspective seems always to coincide with God's ...
If your sympathies are not with the Irish republicans, this film will irritate you, but so it should. If you are neutral on the subject, you'll get a buzz out of the sensitive filmmaking, superb, naturalistic performances with touches of improv, and a sense of outrage that informs the film's mood. It's good to get outraged about things, especially if you use that energy to make a film, instead of a bomb.
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CILLIAN MURPHY INTERVIEW
WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, THE (M)
CAST: Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Gerard Kearney, William Ruane
PRODUCER: Rebecca O'Brien
DIRECTOR: Ken Loach
SCRIPT: Paul Laverty
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Ackroyd
EDITOR: Jonathan Morris
MUSIC: George Fenton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Fergus Clegg
RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 21, 2006