Friday, January 13, 2017

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

A movie review.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley is a 2006 European drama about the Irish War of Independence and later, Irish Civil War; however, the plot isn't so much about the wars themselves or the politics behind them, but rather tells the story of two brothers who initially fight together but later find themselves on the different sides of the barricades. It could be summed up by the popular saying that a revolution has a beginning but no end. First, the rebels shoot the English, then they shoot traitors, then they start shooting each other...

The story basically goes as follows: a young doctor by the name of Damien O'Donovan is planning to leave his native village to go work in London, but after witnessing the brutalities which the British inflict upon the peaceful population (which didn't do nothing) changes his mind and joins the rebels under the command of his (elder) brother Teddy. In the course of fighting, he is forced to shoot his childhood friend who had betrayed them. This event leaves a profound impact on him. Damien has a fiancee Sinead who helps the republicans for which she is shaved dry and humiliated by the English.

When the peace treaty between Britain and Ireland is signed, Teddy is enthusiastic, but Damien being under the influence of his socialist friend Dan doesn't accept it and decides to go on fighting which eventually brings him into direct conflict with his own brother...

The movie has both positive and negative sides. On the negative, first, there is a lot of swearing. Like really a lot. Second, British are all painted as barbarians and monsters. Third, the socialist leanings of the (British, by the way) director are obvious. Fourth, the Irish characters speak with such heavy accents that sometimes it's nearly impossible to understand what they are saying. The movie is also rather sketchy and I had to rely on the Wiki article for details. I also still can't figure out whether Damien in the end was married to Sinead or still only engaged (I think the latter).

On the positive, I would first name the costumes and the scenery. Men look like men and women look like women. Ladies all wear skirts. They do rough work on the farm wearing a skirt. In fact, Sinead even wears high-heeled shoes and is shown bicycling on the muddy roads in a long skirt and long coat, with heels on. Men look like gentlemen even when crawling through the dirt with their rifles.  Somehow they managed to do all these things without modern "comfort" clothes.

There are no female warriors though women do help as auxiliaries, like they are supposed to. In fact, there is an interesting scene which shows that in the absence of men women take over administrative tasks. A female judge takes the side of a poor woman against a rich man and Teddy confronts her. He says that the man in question gives them money to buy weapons and it's more important than someone's personal problems. When the lady judge gets mouthy, he asks her:"Who is going to fight the war? You?" The movie is quite realistic about the war being a man's game and shows that the only way for women to have power is when it's delegated and supported by men.

Third, though the director's sympathies are obviously with Damien, he still manages to show the inner conflict of the other brother and his motivations for doing what he does. Dramatic aspect of the movie is superb and it's up to the viewers to decide who was right and who was wrong in the end. There are also no sexual scenes of any kind though it's suggested that Damien and Sinead do the deed, and no "diversity". It's a European movie about European history without any "positive discrimination" casting.

I would recommend it to anyone interested in history, war and drama.

Here is the trailer:

Here is the link to the whole movie:

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Don't forget that these videos are regularly deleted, though. I hope you'll enjoy it just as much as I did.

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