The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a drama film that was released in 2006. The director of the film is Ken Loach, who has many awards, won the most prestigious award of the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Palm, with this movie. It is useful to point to the “Cathy Come Home” episode of The Wednesday Play (1964) since it led to a change directly in the homeless laws. Also, the movies ‘Looking for Eric’ (2009) and ‘I, Daniel Blake’ (2016) are some of his most notable works. One cannot ignore his socialist attitude; also, his movies are mostly based on the poverty, life of ‘other’, the rights of workers, human rights, etc. The significant thing about his style is that he brings the parties together in a room and presents the dialogues in a very realistic way, making the audience feel like in the middle of the discussion. In addition, the writer of those three movies is Paul Laverty. Several works of their collaboration won awards. The cast of the movie is also made up of award-winning actors such as Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, and Liam Cunningham. Like most of the stars of the movie, they were also born in Ireland. The movie demonstrates the Irish War of Independence, which took place from 1919 to 1922, and the Irish Civil War, which took place from 1922 to 1923, through the relationship between the O’Donovan brothers, who joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to gain Irish independence from the UK. Despite the fact that the story is fictional, the movie also reflects the historical reality with some points such as the trial scene. The movie was mainly influenced by the 1964 novel The Scorching Wind by Walter Macken. In addition, the movie takes its title from Robert Dwyer Joyce’s song of the same name from the 1798 rebellion in Ireland.
“You tell me what I’m supposed to do as a Democrat.
Turn the other cheek for another 700 years, is that it?”
It is useful to summarize the historical aspect in order to interpret the movie as it deserves. The Norman invasion of 1169 led again to a partial takeover of the island which marked the beginning of more than 800 years of English political and military intervention in Ireland. Although there were several insurgencies throughout the centuries, Ireland was not able to gain complete independence. Also, one should bear in mind that the influence of socialism on the insurgencies because of the conflict between core-periphery. In 1801, the Irish Parliament was abolished because of the republican United Irishmen Rebellion; Ireland became a part of the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed by the Acts of Union 1800. In 1916 the Easter Rising led to a crucial turning point in public opinion against the British establishment after the execution of the leaders by British authorities.
“Lads, we have freedom within our grasp. We’re so close.
It’s just one inch, but it’s still out of reach.”
The movie starts with the match scene and continues with the active violence by the British soldiers against Irish youths, who played an amateur hurling match. At the beginning of the 1920s, all public meetings had been banned in Ireland, including sportive activities like an Irish game similar to field hockey in accordance with the Defence of the Realm Act. Although a young doctor from that group, Damien O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy), did not want to join the IRA at first, the violence on the railhead against the machinist (Liam Cunningham), and the other Irish changed his mind. Thus, he joined the local IRA brigade, which was commanded by his brother Teddy O’Donovan (Pádraic Delaney). After this point, a guerilla war is staged in order to establish the Irish Republic that is completely separated from Great Britain. As can be guessed there are several graphic images throughout the movie. After this uphill battle, a truce has been declared. British and Irish leaders signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty to establish a new Irish Free State. However, this treaty leads to a conflict within the IRA since it states that the new Irish state will be mandated. While Teddy advocates that this treaty should be followed in order to gain full independence, Damien advocates that the fight for independence should be continued. Actually, the director exhibits an ideological conflict between the O’Donovan brothers, as he did in his movie ‘Land and Freedom’ (1995). As a result of this conflict, the Irish Civil War started between the parties that are pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty.
In conclusion, throughout the movie, the audiences find an opportunity to examine some concepts such as sovereignty, political power, legitimacy, consent of people, democracy, and authority. The trial scene is significant since it demonstrates the two-headed and illegitimate authority. In addition, the following dialogue between Damien and Donacha is important to discuss the concepts of the consent of people, and legitimacy: “This treaty’s been approved by the parliament. Hasn’t been approved in the field, Donacha.”As mentioned above, the movie also represents an ideological conflict, thus, the understanding of independence is challenged. Therefore, the values and concepts about the nation such as national identity and national independence come to the forefront. Lastly, bear in mind that the movie has a heavy dramatic aspect and striking images of violence. In this context, the movie is not suitable for children.
“I want to have some kind of a life, Damien!”
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