A powerful "Wind"

April 10, 2007, midnight | By Alexis Egan Bridget Egan | 14 years, 7 months ago

Palme d'Or-winning film debuts in DC

The forces that motivate the people. The story behind the history. The hope that overwhelms the hate. The wind that shakes the barley.

Directed by Ken Loach (2000's "Bread and Roses" and 2004's "Ae Fond Kiss"), "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" depicts the lives of two Irish brothers who unite during the Irish War of Independence, but are later torn apart in the subsequent Irish Civil War. Winner of the 2006 Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" originally had a limited release in England due to its anti-British content, but later received a wider releaser.

"The Wind that Shakes the Barley" focuses on physician Damian (Cillian Murphy) and insurgent brother Teddy (Patraic Delaney) as they take arms against the British who have occupied Ireland for centuries. The movie opens serenely on a calm afternoon where Damien and the local "lads" are playing the traditional game of hurley, which is similar to America's field hockey. The film takes a dangerous quick turn towards a darker perspective when Micheail (Laurence Barry) is killed by the British when he refuses to say his name in English, opting instead for Gaelic.

Photo: Ken Loach directs "The Wind That Shakes The Barley," a story portraying life in the IRA for two brothers. Image from google.com

What ensues is Damien's story as he joins the Irish Republican Army and faces trials and tribulations, some of which come from unexpected and unpredictable places. Still wanting to abide by the law but desperate to help his country, Damien is in a constant struggle with his personal morals. Simply put, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" documents the life of the typical everyman when he is in circumstances that seem unbeatable and a situation that seems unlivable.

The film is tantamount to few other films; Loach is one of the first directors to gracefully combine the turbulent story of the Irish and openly display the abuse they were subject to. The only movie that even comes close to evoking the wrenching emotional pain that the audience inevitably feels is "Crash" because of the interlocking lives and the omnipresent sense that everything happens for a reason.

Eerily powerful violin music evokes a sense of peace and is juxtaposed with images of violence, showing how the tragic civil war has spilt apart a beautiful nation. A ceilidh band provides a rest for both the viewer and the character by changing the pacing of the film, allowing time for reflection. Even the title, which is a line borrowed from a song written by Robert D. Joyce, helps depict the struggles of the Irish in the film.

Loach avoids taking sides, not arguing whether the British were right in their attack, or if the Irish had equally strong motivations, but delving deeper into the conflict. Rather than simply displaying statistics focusing on the dead and injured, Loach instead opens the heart and soul, the very essence, of Damien, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about British occupation of Ireland and the actions of the IRA.

Near the closing of the film, Damian writes in a letter that "I tried not to get into this war, and did, now I try to get out, and can't." These words, their power, intensity and emotion, provide the essence of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley," making viewers wonder why it all happened and what can be done to prevent any more tragedy.

"The Wind that Shakes the Barley" is un-rated. It is playing at Landmark Cinemas (Bethesda Row and E-Street) and is 127 minutes.

Alexis Egan. Alexis is a (very) short junior, who is very pleased to be writing for Chips Online with all her friends. Along with writing, her other hobbies are playing soccer, reading about Mount Everest and listening to any Irish music. Her favorite movie is The Princess … More »

Bridget Egan. Bridget Egan is a Communications Art student (graduating in 2007) who loves "CSI" and The Who. When she isn't doing anything related to school work, she is drawing abstract art, reading comic books and normal books and learning to play the bagpipes. Bridget also has … More »

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