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The Wind That Shakes The Barley


Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Director: Ken Loach

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham

From the director of the highly acclaimed Land and Freedom, comes this stimulating drama set in Ireland during the tumultuous time of the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty in December 1921. With the outbreak of civil war shortly after, we follow some of the men caught up in these impassioned circumstances.

Primary focus is on Damien, played by Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins); having witnessed an act of resistance to the daily violence of the Black and Tans, he abandons his medical studies to join his brother, Teddy in the IRA to fight against British Parliamentary forces. Once a peace treaty is signed some members of the group support peace whilst others do not, signifying the beginning of Ireland's bloody civil war. As history highlights, this was a war where brothers sided against each other, a fascinating occurrence Loach explores in this film. Becoming sworn enemies, the brothers find their political loyalties put to the test against their fraternal relationship.

Oppression seems to be a theme Loach adopts throughout his works, meaning The Wind that Shakes the Barley is a project overflowing with the fervour and skill of a true expert. What perhaps makes the film all the more meaningful, as with Loach's other masterpieces, is that whereas similarly themed historic dramas like Michael Collins seek biographical accuracy, this examines the effects of a lack of independence on the ordinary man. Such a technique makes it difficult to not be able to empathise with the characters, particularly when Loach, who is renowned for his strong stance against the Iraq War, claims that the film resonates clearly with current events.

Although some have argued this seems more like a history lesson than a powerful drama, credit should be given to Loach for working hard to produce a realistic presentation of the time. Indeed, many of the events depicted are based on true occurrences, such as the Kilmichael Ambush. With a deep insight into the perspective of ordinary Irishmen, this is a work of genius, well deserving of the Palme d'or at this year's Cannes Festival.

Laura Sparshot

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Autumn Term (35mm)