Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movie Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

IMDB link

This is a movie that is set during the Irish War for Independence and the Irish Civil War that follows. It follows two brothers, Damian and Teddy in County Cork.

The movie shows the brutality of the British occupation, with the paras (paramilitary) Black & Tans terrorizing the countryside looking for Republicans (Irish Republican Army) and the effect of this, namely outraged irishmen signing up for the IRA. There is the brutality of the British occupation, and the terrorism of the IRA against those irish who were suspected to cooporate with the British. In it all, Damian (who was going to study to be a doctor before witnessing the needless killing of a friend and the beating of a rail engineer) openly observes his character changing, to the point where he executes a childhood friend as a collaborator.

The violence and brutality make the war personal for many. And after independence is granted, the movie moves on to the next stage of the Irish suffering, the Irish Civil war, fought because some, like Damian, wanted a complete break with Great Britain, not just being a republic in the commonwealth.

And you see Ireland cry in the eyes of the priests who watch a country they had prayed for borne, and shatter from within. And like other civil wars, pits brother against brother.

You ask, what is it that drives men to go to war? What are the ideals that drive them to kill, not just the strangers and outsiders, but those they have known and even fought alongside. During the sections on the Irish Civil War, you see scenes that repeated those of the war for independence. And it seems senseless in this era where the hand of Great Britain lies very lightly on the commonwealth (to this the Canucks, Aussies and Kiwis would laugh at the idea that the British yoke is heavy), but back then the passions of the people were high. And you go away sad at the senselessness of the civil war, for the cause of the perfect instead of the good.
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