Saturday, June 30, 2007

cinema talk - the wind that shakes the barley

Director:Ken Loach
Writer:Paul Laverty
Release Date:23 June 2006 (Ireland
Winner of the PALME D'OR at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney & Liam Cunningham

Film starts with the hockey match with the beautiful irish countryside, which you are so used to see in the serenading holiday package for ireland. But what follows later, takes you straight to recent patriotic indian films like "The legend of Bhagat Singh" and you soon start looking for the bhagat among the lined up Irishmen who can hardly speak "english" but only gaelic.

But before i force you to get the CD of bhagat singh, the filmmaker of "the wind that shakes the barley" needs special mention. No doubt, he must have got the ire of the british media and right wingers after this film was released in britain. Loach has explicitly connected his film with Iraq, and drawn parallels with resistance to imperialist occupation there. There will be parallel in every armed resistance all over the world, it will never change and we have to wait to see, what Loach actually means, as the US forces are moving out of Iraq in the near future, as it is the country is like a car bomb 24 hours a day.

But talking about the film, it is sad that after being accused of being one sided or one eyed or probably praised for making such a bold movie, the real credit is mis directed and mis judged. The reason for which this film should be remembered is about the personal memories and inner contradictions in the main charactersm this film portrays rather than the political statement which floats overboard.

Central to the drama are two brothers who begin as partners in revolution and end disastrously on different sides of the conflict.. At no point do you lose the sense of them as brothers, or of the story as a personal tragedy; but at the same time they are representative of the almost mythic larger issues in play in any such uprising that evolves to civil war. The older brother, Teddy, is a man of action and a pragmatist for whom ends justify means, and who will seize his opportunities where he finds them. The younger Damien is an intellectual who initially wants no part of the fight: a medical student and natural conciliator, he is drawn in by an incident of brutality that literally prevents him from getting on the train to London to continue his studies.
"A healer turns a killer", a man drawn into the struggle and find himself difficult to get out of.

The prison sequences are beautifully drawn and manages to boil up your blood, when I see most of well crafted indian patriotic films most recently being "Rang De Basanti"

Loach has used natural lighting, it would seem almost exclusively even in the dark interiors, and the entire palette is a brooding green, umber and storm grey.Performances, especially Cillian Murphy in the role of Damien and Liam Cunningham in the role of his friend Dan, are outstanding. Cinematography is stunning; they have made the land itself, and the sky, speak to the bleakness of this story. "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" is a demanding experience, but worth every moment of your attention.

My Rating: 7/10


dry_run said...

Was my first Ken Loach film and to be honest I was not expecting such a dramatic depiction of the Irish struggle. But when you have to capture decades long revolution into an hour n a half, perhaps this is what you get.

Ken Loach has been accused of giving voice to his own leftist convictions and artificially implating them into the history of the struggle. I dont know the truth behind that, but I think it made for the most interesting scnenes in the film. The heated discussion about what the fight was for, land , power, self-rule, by whom and whose behalf.

That is where the brothers part company, the idealist and the realist. Suddenly the imperialist enemy is swept back and in its place stand those who favor staus quo and slow change against those who want to shake it all up and build anew. As a study of conflict of ideologies, it certainly made for interesting viewing.

Yes, 7. I would call it a 7

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