A Student of History

March 18, 2007

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (III)

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 6:26 am

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is finally here inthe US, and Time Magazine has a review here.

Barley won the Palme D’Or at last year’s Cannes film festival and despite its length (over two hours) and some structural problems, it is an absorbing, worthwhile and often passionate movie. Yes, it has a certain medicinal virtue; it is not easy to take. But it also has extraordinary dramatic power and because Loach is an honest and honorable craftsman, it often betrays his own sympathies.

These, naturally are with the Irish Republican Army: a small, beleaguered guerrilla group, fighting in the years immediately after World War I for independence from British rule, which was then being enforced by the Black and Tans, vicious and largely undisciplined soldiers recruited from the demobilized English army and functioning in Ireland as terrorist-enforcers of the status quo. Loach’s film, written by Paul Laverty, focuses on a Sinn Fein (or revolutionist) “flying column” operating in County Cork, with special emphasis on a gentle young doctor, Damien (Cillian Murphy) and his more hot-headed brother, Teddy (Padraic Delaney), who is the group’s leader. Theirs is a life of midnight raids on British barracks, roadside ambushes, betrayals, captivity (which includes brutal torture) and the meting out of summary justice to informers, all of which Loach captures with potent realism.

I wonder if Ian Paisley saw it?



  1. it was a de mobilized british army not de mobilized English army. the tans were mainly English and Scottish troops sent there by Lloyd george a welsh man and Commander in Chief of all british forces Alexander Hague a scotsman. Irish home rule was supported by the English component of the british parliament at that time, un fortunatly the Scots, who were, and still are sectarian, held sway at that time. if you are studying history, look at who made the decisions. The scots and welsh are adept at removing themselves from the pages of british history when it suits.

    Comment by tally — March 18, 2007 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  2. I just hope it plays in Columbus, Ohio!

    Comment by John Maass — March 18, 2007 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

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