Jump to content


Photo

The Wind that Shakes the Barley


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 Tony Watkins

Tony Watkins

    Simpleton

  • Member
  • 782 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 03:57 AM

I'm surprised to see there's no thread yet on this powerful, disturbing and moving film which won the Palm D'Or at Cannes last year. Though I guess that reflects the fact that the Arts and Faith centre of gravity is in North America, and it's only just being released there now, I understand (it makes a change for us to be months ahead of you!).

My article on it is here:
QUOTE
‘Twas hard for mournful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us,
Ah but harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us.
And so I said: the mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the brave united men
While soft winds shake the barley.

(Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830–1883) ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’


These words, expressing the difficulty, yet deeply-felt necessity, of achieving liberation from British rule, are sung early on in Ken Loach’s film about the Irish war of independence. They are sung at the wake of a young man who has been beaten to death by British soldiers for answering them in Irish, not English. It is 1920 and the guerrilla war is beginning in earnest. Micheail’s death is not the only cause of distress to the rural community in County Cork – Damien (Cillian Murphy), recently qualified as a doctor in Cork, is about to leave for London to further his training. It is a great opportunity for him, but his friends and brother Teddy (Pádraic Delaney) are upset. They believe he should stay to fight against the British. At the station a platoon of soldiers are prevented from boarding the train by the guard and engine driver Dan (Liam Cunningham) because the Irish unions have agreed not to provide transport for British forces. Both men are struck by rifle butts, and Damien stays to attend to the guard’s wounds while the train leaves without him. It is the final straw for Damien who returns home, takes the oath of the Irish Republican Army and joins the local Flying Column.

When the truce is declared in the summer of 1921, it divides the republicans since the proposed Anglo-Irish Treaty promises self rule but leaves six counties in the UK, leaves the British in control of key ports, and requires members of the Irish Free State Parliament to pledge allegiance to the British crown. Teddy argues in favour of the Treaty on the basis that it was the best they could hope for and that it was better than the alternative offered by the British: ‘immediate and terrible war’. But Damien and others vow to fight on: they want a republican Ireland. They believe that otherwise, ‘all that will change will be colour of the flag’. It certainly seems that way when the Irish Free State Army – with Teddy as an officer – behaves in the same brutal way as the British. Now men who had been comrades find themselves fighting on opposite sides – including Damien and Teddy.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is not an easy film to watch. It is, as one expects from director Ken Loach, superbly made, and it won the Palm D’Or at Cannes. Set in the beautiful surroundings of County Cork, with sets and costumes in appropriately muted colours, it is extremely atmospheric. Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography and George Fenton’s score (along with some traditional Irish songs) create exactly the right feel. The difficulty is entirely with the subject matter. . . .


#2 BaptistJon

BaptistJon

    Member

  • Member
  • 6 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 11:10 AM

It is indeed an uncomfortable film to watch, both in terms of the graphic on-screen brutality, and the rootedness in real-life events.

Ken Loach, as viewers familiar with his work will expect, applies the criticism of the British army and Govt. with a large trowel. He seldom does things by half. However, I got the feeling that this film, released as it was, was not just about British action in Eire, but was also a timely comment on contemporary military incursions.

As a way of understanding why occupied people rebel with such dogged persistence it is helpful, if somewhat disheartening.

My own opinion is that Cillian Murphy provides his best performance, with a very strong supporting cast. Occasionally the scripting is a bit simplistic, but the locations and authentic feel of the movie make up somewhat for this.

Jon

#3 MattPage

MattPage

    Bible Films Geek.

  • Member
  • 4,189 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 11:23 AM

s'been on my "must get around to watching that" list for a while, but still haven't seen it yet (it is a long list though!)

Matt

#4 The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man

    Member

  • Member
  • 505 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 11:31 AM

I haven't seen it either. I had the opportunity to watch it on DVD recently but I decided to pass. The film sounds repugnant.

#5 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,037 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 01:00 PM

QUOTE
The film sounds repugnant.


Care to elaborate? huh.gif

#6 mrmando

mrmando

    Lassie, the Barbarian Musical Thinker

  • Member
  • 3,635 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 01:30 PM

QUOTE(Jeffrey Overstreet @ Mar 16 2007, 02:00 PM) View Post
QUOTE
The film sounds repugnant.


Care to elaborate? huh.gif

Uh ... he's English.

#7 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,037 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 01:46 PM

Is that like Ted Baehr giving Letters from Iwo Jima the "Benedict Arnold award" for stopping to consider the plight of the Japanese? Isn't it worthwhile to at least consider the experience of a battle from the other side? I haven't seen the film, but I'd be interested in stories from both sides of any battle...

#8 The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man

    Member

  • Member
  • 505 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 04:00 PM

QUOTE(Jeffrey Overstreet @ Mar 16 2007, 06:46 PM) View Post
Is that like Ted Baehr giving Letters from Iwo Jima the "Benedict Arnold award" for stopping to consider the plight of the Japanese? Isn't it worthwhile to at least consider the experience of a battle from the other side? I haven't seen the film, but I'd be interested in stories from both sides of any battle...


But there are no stories from both sides, Jeffrey. Not in movies, at least.

I haven't seen "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" and the reviews that I have read (from the reviewers who I tend to trust) could be misleading, but it seems that this film is little more than an ultra-simplistic history lesson, with Loach serving up the usual tedious stereotypes of cowardly British bully-boys and brave Irish freedom-fighters.

Now, I am not saying that my country didn't commit terrible atrocities against the Irish (heck, we committed atrocities against pretty much everybody - empires tend to do that), but an awful lot of water has gone under the bridge since the days of the Black and Tans, and I grew up watching some of it on TV. Those of us of a certain age still remember those news reports of the bloody aftermaths of IRA bombings and our feelings are still raw.

I would also mention in passing that many of these bombs that targeted innocent men, women and children were paid for by people from your side of the pond - people who had no real concept of terrorism and who held a somewhat romanticized view of the troubles. But there is no romance in war or terrorism, and it serves no purpose to feed myths in movies.

When the Canary Wharf Tower was bombed it made my whole house shake so much that my back garden window cracked. I was scared half to death. It still makes me jumpy when I think about it now. The sound of that bomb came back to me vividly while I watched a TV news bulletin one sunny lunchtime in the September of 2001. We are finally and sadly on the same page, I thought.


#9 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,037 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 04:25 PM

You may be right about this film. I'll have to see it to know.

#10 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,294 posts

Posted 16 March 2007 - 05:08 PM

FWIW, I was offended by Loach's Land and Freedom (which I only saw once, during its initial release), but I can't recall how much of that might have been due to the audience members who applauded when, e.g., a farmer's land was taken away from him by the "collective". Was the film preaching to the choir, or was the choir singing the film's praises so loudly that neither they nor I heard any subtler messages that might have been there?

#11 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,294 posts

Posted 20 March 2007 - 11:33 PM

Steve Sailer:
Neoconservatives who extol Winston Churchill's adamancy never mention that in 1921, after Britain suffered no more than 700 army and police deaths in Ireland, he played a key role in negotiations with insurgents that resulted in Britain suddenly cutting and running from southern Ireland after 700 years of occupation.

Why did the UK, which sent 20,000 Tommies to their deaths on the first day of the Battle of the Somme a half decade earlier, not stay the course in Ireland? Ken Loach's film about Irish Republican Army gunmen in 1920-22, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley," which won the top prize at the 2006 Cannes festival, graphically conveys why the English, a civilized people, went home. Defeating a guerilla uprising broadly supported by the local populace requires a level of frightfulness that does not bear close inspection. . . .

Loach is neither the most fluid of filmmakers nor the most historically trustworthy, but "Barley" is consistently informative about the Anglo-Irish War, if spectacularly wrong-headed about the subsequent Irish Civil War among the victors . . .
FWIW.

#12 Tony Watkins

Tony Watkins

    Simpleton

  • Member
  • 782 posts

Posted 21 March 2007 - 09:47 AM

QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Mar 21 2007, 04:33 AM) View Post
Loach is neither the most fluid of filmmakers nor the most historically trustworthy, but "Barley" is consistently informative about the Anglo-Irish War, if spectacularly wrong-headed about the subsequent Irish Civil War among the victors . . .

Loach's method's of working bring him and Paul Laverty in close contact with local people. At the press conference I was at with him, he recounted stories told him by local members of the cast (especially the old woman who sings the titular song) and local residents. He recognises full well that the story they tell is not the story of the entire War of Independence. It's the fictional story of one man in a small community whose story has elements from the experiences of some real people - it's a snapshot of one aspect of a much greater and more complex picture. It's clear within the film that there are many conflicting currents within the republican movement - different motivations, agendas, priorities, concerns, values. One of the film's strengths was the way the debates did not resolve easily - and led to civil war with families being divided and brutality which was a match for that of the English.

#13 MattPage

MattPage

    Bible Films Geek.

  • Member
  • 4,189 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 04:54 AM

This thread has me wondering what films will be like decades / centuries into the future as film-makers pick over the bones of the American Empire making films about it's atrocities. That's not meant to be inflammatory - I recognise that we in the UK are your leading ally (so well be due some more as well) and that many Americans are appalled by what is done by people from our country. It was just a thought I had in reading the thread was all.

Matt

#14 Darrel Manson

Darrel Manson

    Detached Existential INFP Dreamer-Minstrel Redux

  • Member
  • 6,633 posts

Posted 04 April 2007 - 11:01 PM

I see this as an interesting lens through which we can contemplate our own world. It's not just a matter of the way Empire acts (although clearly that is a big part -- and will go over many American heads because we don't believe we are an empire -- empires are bad, and we by definition are good.) It also gives us a view into what it is that drives a terrorist -- I'm sorry, freedom fighter. And how the gaining of power turns the oppressed into the oppressor. And about the conflict of ideals and pragmatism.

I'm beginning to think the film may have overreached a hair by trying to be too much.

On the ideal/pragmatism conflict, I find the executions by the two brothers interesting. Both choose to do it themselves. Both do so with great remorse. But when Damien shoots Chris, it is out of a sense of betrayal to the cause. When Teddy presides over Damien's firing squad, it is because order must be maintained.

Edited by Darrel Manson, 06 November 2007 - 06:10 PM.


#15 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,037 posts

Posted 15 April 2007 - 11:10 AM

[post deleted for the sake of getting rid of a tangent]

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet, 15 April 2007 - 08:16 PM.


#16 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,037 posts

Posted 15 April 2007 - 08:07 PM

(Sigh.) Okay, then, let's just back up, delete our posts, and get this thread back on track. No point in sidetracking it with a discussion of why I'm tracking the statements of other prominent Christian press reviewers.

So. How 'bout that Barley?

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet, 15 April 2007 - 08:18 PM.


#17 Greg Wright

Greg Wright

    Member

  • Member
  • 706 posts

Posted 20 April 2007 - 02:19 AM

I wanted to like this film more than I did. I'm just a jaded old poop, I guess. Seemed like too much of a rehash of other films to get too excited about, though the themes are certainly worthwhile.

My review...

#18 Jeff

Jeff

    Member

  • Member
  • 844 posts

Posted 20 April 2007 - 12:32 PM

Does anyone know of a good content review for this film? Or, if you've seen it, could you elaborate a little on what kind of content it features? I'm thinking about seeing it, but I want to know how to approach it and what I should be prepared for.

#19 Tony Watkins

Tony Watkins

    Simpleton

  • Member
  • 782 posts

Posted 20 April 2007 - 01:21 PM

QUOTE(Jeff @ Apr 20 2007, 06:32 PM) View Post
Does anyone know of a good content review for this film? Or, if you've seen it, could you elaborate a little on what kind of content it features? I'm thinking about seeing it, but I want to know how to approach it and what I should be prepared for.

My article will give you some idea. Don't know if it's the kind of review you're looking for. I haven't looked at any others from a Christian perspective.

#20 Crow

Crow

    Alaskan Malamute

  • Member
  • 1,419 posts

Posted 28 April 2007 - 04:32 PM

I thought it was a powerful film, difficult to watch but very well done. Cillian Murphy's performance was excellent, as was the rest of the cast. I don't know enough about the history to make a judgement for its accuracy, but I thought what the film showed well was the propensity of the human heart for violence when they try to assert control, and both the English and Irish were guilty.