The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Directed by Ken Loach
Produced by Rebecca O'Brien
Written by Paul Laverty
Starring Cillian Murphy
Padraic Delaney
Orla Fitzgerald
Liam Cunningham
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Barry Ackroyd
Distributed by Pathe Distribution
Release date(s) Ireland and UK:
23 June 2006
7 September 2006
21 September 2006
United States:
14 March 2007
Running time 127 minutes
Language English, Irish

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Ken Loach film set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922–1923). Written by long-time Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, this drama tells the story of two County Cork brothers, played by Cillian Murphy and Pádraic Delaney, who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for Irish independence from the United Kingdom.

Widely praised, the film won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Loach's biggest box office success to date,[1] the film did well around the world and set a record in Ireland as the highest-grossing Irish-made independent film ever.[2]


[edit] Plot

In 1920, Damien O'Donovan (Cillian Murphy), a young doctor, is about to leave Ireland to work in a London hospital. His brother Teddy (Pádraic Delaney) commands the local flying column of the Irish Republican Army. After a hurling match, Damien witnesses the fatal beating of his friend, Micheál Ó Súillebheán, by British Black and Tans. Damien rebuffs his friends' entreaties to stay in Ireland and fight for independence from Great Britain, saying that the IRA is too outnumbered to win. As he is leaving town, Damien witnesses British soldiers beating a railway guard for refusing to allow the troops to board, as well as the subsequent resistance of the train driver (Liam Cunningham). Damien decides to stay and joins Teddy's IRA brigade.

In retaliation for Micheál's murder, the brigade raids the local Royal Irish Constabulary barracks for guns, then uses them to assassinate four British Auxiliaries. In the aftermath, Anglo-Irish landowner Sir John Hamilton (Roger Allam) coerces one of his servants, IRA member Chris Reilly (John Crean), into informing. As a result, the entire brigade is taken prisoner. In their cell, Damien meets the train driver, Dan, a union organizer who shares Damien's socialist views. British officers interrogate Teddy, pulling out his fingernails when he refuses to name names. Later, Johnny Gogan (William Ruane), an Irish-Scots soldier in the British Army, helps all but three of the prisoners escape.

After the actions of Sir John and Chris are revealed to the IRA, both are taken hostage. Because Teddy is still recovering, Damien is temporarily placed in command. Because the three remaining IRA prisoners were executed, the brigade receives orders to execute Sir John and Chris. Despite the fact that Chris is a lifelong friend, Damien shoots both him and Sir John. Later, Damien tells his sweetheart, Cuman na mBan courier Sinéad Sullivan (Orla Fitzgerald), about the shame of facing Chris's mother.

After the IRA ambushes and defeats an armed convoy of the Auxiliary Division, another detachment of Auxiliaries loots and burns the farmhouse of Sinéad's family. Sinéad is held at gunpoint while her head is shaved. Later, as Damien comforts her, a messenger arrives with news of a formal ceasefire between Britain and the IRA. While the village celebrates, Damien and Sinéad steal away for a romantic interlude.

When the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty are announced, the IRA divides over whether or not to accept it, because it does not grant complete independence from Britain. Teddy and his allies argue that accepting the Treaty will bring peace now while further gains can be made later. Damien, Dan and their side oppose the Treaty, proposing to fight for full independence and the abolition of Ireland's class system. As the new Irish Free State replaces British occupation with Teddy and his friends patrolling in Irish Army uniforms, Damien and his Anti-Treaty comrades feel betrayed.

After the Irish Civil War breaks out, Damien and Dan's column takes up arms against the new Irish Army. Dan is killed and Damien is captured during a raid for arms on a Free State barracks commanded by Teddy. Sentenced to death, Damien is held in the same cell where the British had imprisoned them earlier. Teddy pleads with him to reveal where the IRA is hiding the stolen arms, offering him full amnesty and the vision of a happy family life with Sinéad, but Damien refuses, saying that he killed Chris for being an informer. Writing a goodbye letter to Sinéad, Damien declares his love for her, adding that he knows what he stands for and is not afraid. At dawn, Damien is marched before a firing squad. As both brothers fight back tears, Teddy gives the order, the squad fires, and Damien crumples to the ground. Teddy delivers Damien's letter to Sinéad. She tells Teddy she never wants to see him again and falls to her knees screaming for Damien.

[edit] Production

Although it is focused on Irish history and identity and stars mostly Irish actors, the film was made by British director Loach and was an international co-production between companies in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

The title derives from the song of the same name, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," by 19th century author Robert Dwyer Joyce. The song made the phrase "the wind that shakes the barley" a motif in Irish Republican song and poetry. National University of Ireland, Cork historian Donal O Drisceoil was Loach's historical adviser on the film.

The film was shot in various towns within County Cork during 2005, including Ballyvorney and Timoleague.[3] Some filming took place in Bandon, County Cork: a scene was shot along North Main Street and outside a building next to the Court House.[3] The ambush scene was shot on the mountains around Ballyvorney while the farmhouse scenes were filmed in Coolea. Damien's execution scene was shot at Cork City Gaol.[4]

Many of the extras in the film were drawn from local Scout groups,[5] including Bandon, Togher and Macroom with veteran Scouter Martin Thompson in an important role. Many of the British Soldiers seen in the film were played by members of the Irish Army Reserve, from local units.

Among the songs on the film's soundtrack is "Oró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile", a 17th century Irish Jacobite song whose lyrics the nationalist leader Pádraig Pearse changed to focus upon Republican themes.[citation needed]

[edit] Cast

[edit] Distribution

The commercial interest expressed in the United Kingdom was initially much lower than in other European countries and only 30 prints of the film were planned for distribution in the UK, compared with 300 in France. However, after the Palme d'Or award the film appeared on 105 screens in the UK.

The RESPECT political party, of which Ken Loach is on the national council, called for people to watch the film on its first weekend in order to persuade the film industry to show the film in more cinemas.[6]

[edit] Themes

[edit] Socialism vs. Conservatism

The film attempts to explore the extent that the Irish revolution was a social revolution as opposed to a nationalist revolution. Ken Loach commented on this theme in an interview with Toronto’s Eye Weekly (March 15, 2007):

"Every time a colony wants independence, the questions on the agenda are: a) how do you get the imperialists out, and b) what kind of society do you build? There are usually the bourgeois nationalists who say, 'Let's just change the flag and keep everything as it was.' Then there are the revolutionaries who say, 'Let's change the property laws.' It's always a critical moment." [7]

[edit] The Irish Civil War

The tragedy and bloodshed of the Civil War is vividly depicted. The village's IRA brigade, which once functioned as a surrogate family, is split into feuding factions. Men who once fought and died side by side are transformed into mortal enemies. Families, neighbors, and friends are turned against each other.

The flaws and strengths of Marxism and conservatism are also examined through Teddy and Damien's debate outside the village Church. Damien would punish men based on their social class, Teddy only for their actions. In the name of politics, however, both are willing to destroy human life without trial.

At the film's climax, the the pathos of Damien's extra-judical execution is compounded by one simple reality: Damien does not want to die and Teddy does not want to kill him. Each feels, however, that the politics and the choices made by the other person have left them without a choice. In the end, no one fails to be burned by the sun of the revolution.

[edit] Reception

The reaction from film critics has generally been positive. As of 5 January 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 102 reviews.[8] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 82 out of 100, based on 30 reviews.[9]

The Daily Telegraph's film critic described it as a "brave, gripping drama" and said that director Loach was "part of a noble and very English tradition of dissent"[10]. A Times film critic said that the film showed Loach "at his creative and inflammatory best"[11], and rated it as 4 out of 5. The Daily Record of Scotland gave it a positive review (4 out of 5), describing it as "a dramatic, thought-provoking, gripping tale that, at the very least, encourages audiences to question what has been passed down in dusty history books."[12]

Michael Sragow of The Baltimore Sun named it the 5th best film of 2007[13], and Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post named it the 7th best film of 2007.[13]

The film was attacked by some commentators, some of whom had not seen it, including Simon Heffer.[14] Following the Cannes prize announcement, Irish historian Ruth Dudley Edwards wrote in the Daily Mail on 30 May 2006 that Loach's political viewpoint "requires the portrayal of the British as sadists and the Irish as romantic, idealistic resistance fighters who take to violence only because there is no other self-respecting course,"[15] and attacked his career in an article containing inaccuracies.[16] The following week, Edwards continued her attack in The Guardian, admitting that her first article was written without seeing the film (which at that stage had only been shown at Cannes), and asserting that she would never see it "because I can't stand its sheer predictability."[17] One day after Edwards' initial article appeared, Tim Luckhurst of The Times called the movie a "poisonously anti-British corruption of the history of the war of Irish independence" and went so far as to compare Loach to Nazi propagandist director Leni Riefenstahl.[18] Yet George Monbiot revealed on 6 June, also in The Guardian, that the production company had no record of Luckhurst having attended a critic's screening of the as-yet unreleased film, and Luckhurst refused to comment.[19] In a generally positive review, the Irish historian Brian Hanley suggested that the film might have dealt with the IRA's relationship with the Protestant community.[20]

One strain of commentary in Ireland examined the Irish War of Independence as a socialist or class based conflict, as well as a nationalist uprising.[21] The film has also re-generated debate on rival interpretations of Irish history.[20][22]

[edit] References

  1. ^ News from the UK Film Council, 23 April 2007
  2. ^ "Loach Film Sets New Money Mark", 8 August 2006
  3. ^ a b "Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved on 2008-11-23. 
  4. ^ "Kilmainham Gaol". Retrieved on 2008-11-23. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Wind that Shakes the Barley", 10 June 2006
  7. ^ Quoted at
  8. ^ "The Wind That Shakes the Barley - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2008-01-05. 
  9. ^ "Wind That Shakes the Barley, The (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-01-05. 
  10. ^ "Powerful - but never preachy" The Daily Telegraph, 23 June 2006
  11. ^ "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" The Times, 22 June 2006
  12. ^ "Troubles and Strife" The Daily Record, 23 June 2006
  13. ^ a b "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-01-05. 
  14. ^ "Come out fighting" The Guardian, 16 June 2006
  15. ^ "Why does Ken Loach loathe his country so much?" The Daily Mail, 30 May 2006
  16. ^ "Ken Loach hits back at English tabloids" Indymedia Ireland, 1 June 2006
  17. ^ "What about making Black and Tans: the movie?" The Guardian, 6 June 2006
  18. ^ "Director in a class of his own" The Times, 31 May 2006
  19. ^ "If we knew more about Ireland, we might never have invaded Iraq" The Guardian, 6 June 2006
  20. ^ a b "The Wind That Shakes the Barley Sends Revisionists Yapping at History's Heels: Ireland's Freedom Struggle and the Foster School of Falsification", 11/12 November 2006
  21. ^ "Film Review: The Wind That Shakes The Barley" indymedia Ireland, 2 July 2006
  22. ^ "Cork Examiner, June 26, 2006: Sectarian Wind Up - a defence of The Wind that Shakes the Barley"

[edit] External links

Preceded by
L'Enfant (film)
Palme d'Or
Succeeded by
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Personal tools