Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY"

CineManila
World Cinema Category
Cinema 2, Greenbelt 1
November 3 -15, 2006

Irish Republican Army


A poignant tale of two brothers who find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide in Ireland after the signing of the peace treaty which divided Ireland into two. This eventually led to the outbreak of civil war in Ireland between the group which supports the Treaty and those who believed in fighting for their Independence. This film directed by Ken Loach won the Palme D'or prix at this year's Cannes Film Festival in France. It is set in a small rural Irish town in the early 20th century. The film explores the lives of the people who are constantly harassed by British soldiers. How they band together to rebel against the authoritarian rule is the main thrust of this film.

Ken Loach's minimalist approach about a very sensitive subject is a good depiction. It is very dialogue driven so you need to tune your mind to understand the Irish accent. I got used to reading subtitles after watching a lot of foreign films recently so for a certain part of the film I had to really strain my ears to grasp the language. There are some really graphically brutal scenes but they are clearly relevant to the storyline. The sometimes lush, then other times barren Irish countryside provide excellent backdrop coating the film with a certain bleakness that makes it very realistic.

The ensemble cast all contribute to etch out some distinctly humane characters. Special mention goes out to Cillian Murphy whose underacting approach adds a lot of heart and soul to his character as one of the ill fated Donovan brothers. He basically carries the whole movie without being too 'in your face' if you know what I mean. The storyline is fluid enough and not really hard to comprehend you just need to really listen because it is in the dialogue that things get explained.

I have to admit everything I know about the political situation in Ireland during that historical period, I 'learned' by watching movies like "Michael Collins", "The Boxer" and "In the Name of the Father" which of course doesn't really give a more profound sense of the conflict. But I am more or less aware of the whole situation. So it doesn't hurt one bit to learn more about the political climate in that part of the world through one more socially relevant film about contemporary history.

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