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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Wind That Shakes The Barley  [DVD]
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48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2007
I'm dissapointed to note a number of reviewers complain about a one sided view of this part of Irelands troubled history. I am an Irishman who has lived in England for many years, my wife is English and my children were born here. I am not an "English Hater"- like some people who can't seem to look beyond the past particularly it seems Americans of Irish descent.
This film is gritty and has many accurate references to the period, Loach however does tend to put a biased flavour on things.

I agree that the Black and Tans were brutal and committed many attrocities (These are accurately recorded in numerous documents) they were known to have sacked entire towns, women raped, men shot, property stolen. But they were not soldiers, they were Police auxilaries. Many years ago I met several old soldiers who had served in Ireland in the period. They all despised the black and tans, The Black and Tans were paid much more than the ordinary troops, they were unruly and poorly led.

There are many reported occasions when British regular troops behaved very well in Ireland and likewise there were numerous reports of IRA units disarming British troops and allowing them to retreat unharmed.

The simplistic way in which Loach deals with the treaty and the civil war that followed irritated me greatly. Perhaps Mr Loach should remember that the Irish people voted overwhemingly in favour of the treaty and the free state. That is democracy. Only a minority wanted a Marxist Ireland and thank god they didn't get it.

If Collins had held out for a Republic the British would have reinforced their troops in Ireland and the IRA would have been wiped out. The North was not willingly given up, but at that time there was no chance of any freedom for any in Ireland unless it was. Historical reports of the time show how numerous regiments in Ulster, recruited from Loyalist areas and based in the province, were prepared to mutiny if the British gave up what they saw as a part of Britain. The bloodshed would have been unimaginable and as always it would have been the people who would have suffered.

A good film in other respects, good acting and locations, realistic in many ways. What a shame there couldn't have been a little more impartiality on occasion.

I don't blame my English neighbours for what the British government of the past did to my country. They don't blame me for the evil crimes of the Provisional IRA or their kind. I think sometimes we need to look forward more and back less.

Slan
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2014
An excellent account by Ken Loach of an important piece of Irish history in the post- First World War period.
Arguments for an independent Ireland are put forward through a very competent team of actors, and tensions
are highlighted by the brutal actions of the Black and Tans, and the behaviour of a ruling British elite that wants to
keep hold of its privileged land-ownership, and ability to oppress the ordinary Irish people.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2012
The time of the Easter Rising, and the sad events that followed in Ireland's history are sadly told in this account; and anyone interested in Irish History, the tragedy of the Civil War, or the way local War impacts on families, would find this film interesting; but if you suffer from depression, or the Blues, it will not lift your heart at all. The story is well dramatized, and the standard of acting is excellent; but I for one, do not like the way, that these days, every desire to produce reality, leads to bad language being used in every other breath. That was the one thing that spoiled the film for me. However, the story is told, and as I said, told well...May we pray that Ireland never returns to this, and that people around the Earth who live amid similar conflict, may have their escape from it soon.
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52 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2006
This is the first film that has ever shown a true acount of the struggle between the IRA and the Black and Tans.My father served in the Fingal Brigade IRA 1920-21(North Co.Dublin)His ASU engaged the Black and Tans at the village of Ballbriggan.As a reprisal the'Tans torched the village. My father was not anti-British or anti-English he just did not want the British to govern Ireland.The only critisisms I have of the film are:

For non Irish viewers there should have been a short explaination leading up to why this struggle between the Crown Forces and the IRA took place. 0ne more battle scene either in town or countryside would have enhanced the dramatic effect. I have seen the film both in London and Dublin. The London version is cut! I wonder why?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2014
Excellent film; as always from Ken Loach. Maybe I'm biased since I'm Loach fan. Not only is he a genuine artist, but a brave one for always portraying the social injustice in Britain.
No other British artist has the balls to do what Ken Loach does, and that's a pity.
Anyway, this film is highly recommended.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2008
I have to say I enjoyed this film immensely. I thought it brilliantly portrayed the struggle at the time and commend Ken Loach for tackling such a sensitive subject matter. The Black and Tans were notorious for their atrocities and we all grew up in Ireland listening to stories about them. They ransacked my Great-Grandparents' house and torched neighbouring villages. I am aware that they had come back from appalling world war one trench conditions and do realise that they were victims of the establishment in Britain at that time. Ken Loach could perhaps have considered that but the fact remains that their treatment of the Irish was for the most part brutal and ultimately he is telling an Irish story albeit at a particular point in time. Cillian Murphy is brilliant and Padraic Delaney is absolutely gorgeous. It's great to hear an authentic Cork accent on the silver screen too! I particulary liked the way Cillian visited the poor family as a Doctor and showed the appalling poverty that was prevalent in Ireland at the time.
The film might be a bit confusing if you haven't an iota of Irish history as really there were two civil wars going on. The one between the republican Irish and the Unionists (which obviously became a full blown civil war in the 60s and 70s) and then ultimately what the film depicts; the less famous civil war between the pro and anti-treaty forces following the War of Independence and the creation of the freesate (or what is now the Irish Republic) and Northern Ireland. Oh and just to set the record straight- an earlier reviewer commented that Ireland had agreed to the Act of Union with Britain in 1801. The vast majority of the native Irish did NOT have the right to vote in 1801. Under the Penal Law system Catholics could not vote or become an MP (among other things-see Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829) until the advent of Daniel O' Connell and Parnell much later. It is however an excellent film made by a very talented and great Englishman. I highly recommend it.
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56 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2006
People who praised "Michael Collins" mightn't like "The Wind That Shakes The Barley". But it was made -unlike "Michael Collins"- according to the truth back in that time. In "Michael Collins" they used a car bomb. A bomb of that kind didn't even exist back then. "Michael Collins" is made after Hollywood taste and way off the truth at times.

The English did horrible things to the Irish and to some people this might come as a shock. I've seen many horrible scenes before but the scene in the prison topped everything. It almost made me wanna throw up.

Go to the cinema and judge yourself. It's very well worth it!

ALL Irish made, shot in Cork, excellent film, MUST-SEE, 5 out of 5 stars and any Oscar for "The Wind That Shakes The Barley".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2014
Very violent, but if disturbing part of our history if your a British. Watched with my Irish wife and I felt embarrassed what the Black and Tans done in our name.

Had to turn it off when they started pulling finger nails out with pliers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Wind That Shakes The Barley is essentially a dramatised potted history set during a pivotal few months from 1920 during the Irish War of Independence until Partition and the creation of the Irish Free State in 1921, leading up to the Irish Civil War, from the perspective of (largely) one of two brothers in a small rural community.
Damien (Cillian Murphy) plays the brother in question, an idealistic doctor who abandons his prospective career on the UK mainland after witnessing acts of murder and brutality by the Black and Tans within his community. Damien joins up with the local IRA unit who then partake of a series of retaliatory strikes against the British forces.
There are a couple of particularly interesting scenes which serve to broaden the political narrative of the much localised perspective. One concerns a court hearing of the newly established Dáil between a wealthy local businessman and a destitute woman who owes him money from a loan; the ensuing discussion provides a good illustration of the ideological split between opposing factions of the IRA, those who view themselves as pragmatists dependent upon funds from the wealthy and powerful to continue the armed struggle and the more Socialist wing who strive to rid Ireland of landlords and Capitalist oppressors. Another fleshing out scene concerns the announcement of the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty whereby Damien takes the anti-Treaty stance with his brother being pro-Treaty.
The Treaty scene is one point in the film which clearly displays the films slant,focusing more on the anti-Treatist perspective. Unfair? unbalanced? I don't think so. It is not a historical document, the film provides the counter arguments and focuses on one faction, right or wrong, which is an entirely valid form of depicting a particular set of beliefs the director wants to highlight and the effects this has on character development.
Does the film unfairly depict the British presence in Ireland at this time? Again I'm inclined to think not. The Black and Tans were notorious for their reprisals against civilians in response to IRA attacks upon them, the film does not shirk from showing this and why should it. Within the confines of a two hour film it is very difficult to provide much more than a general representative snapshot of a space in time and regardless of how other better trained and disciplined British forces and individuals may have equipped themselves during this time the Black and Tans were brutal. An Irish set film, English director or otherwise, is entitled to depict this time period reflecting these events in the manner in which this film has without worrying about the sensitivities of those who feel any analysis of historical events which do not represent this country, it's various governments or armed forces in a positive light is de facto a propaganda tool, anti-British etc.
It's a good film and it provides a clear timeline and appreciation of events going on in Dublin and London despite the film not moving from the small comunity in which it is set. Interestingly it provides neither a text introduction or conclusion as to how events progressed form the point in time in which the film's story ends; the film is more concerned with the story of Damien than with wider events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2014
Ever wondered what drove ordinary young men to join Sinn Fein? Read this and weep! Then be ashamed at what was done to others in the name of the British Empire. A masterpiece.
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