date festival


Ken Loach

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Ken Loach
2006 - Ireland / United Kingdom / Germany - 2h04

Screenings : wednesday 24 - 4:45 pm - Grand Théâtre sunday 28 - 5:15 pm - Grand Théâtre
Ireland, 1920. A group of farmers unite to form an army of volunteers against the dreaded Black and Tans, English troops sent in boatloads to crush the Irish people's drive for independence. Out of a sense of duty and love for his country, Damien gives up his career as a doctor and joins his brother Teddy in the dangerous fight for freedom...
“This personal film about the Irish wars of 1920-1923 won the director the Palme d'Or at Cannes. (...) Paul Laverty's screenplay brings to life all the features of a film about resistance (the young fighter's initiation to cruelty, the difficult choices between protecting the population and taking up arms against the enemy...), as has been the case since the invention of cinema. And yet The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a deeply personal film.
Ken Loach belongs to a generation, and a school of thought, that have led him to take a clear-cut view of events in Ireland. There are no excuses or good reasons for British policy in his film, and the final section is full of cold fury at the traitors who preferred to sign a compromise with London rather than fight to the bitter end for a united, socialist Ireland.
But you would have to be singularly insensitive to see
The Wind That Shakes the Barley as nothing more than an agitprop film, a metaphor for western intervention in Iraq, for example, even if this topical element is necessarily present. Loach is very close to his characters as he films. Around Cillian Murphy, a young Hollywood first-timer who does an astonishingly humble and intense job here, his actors slip into the shoes of ordinary people thrown into the cataclysm of war.
The O'Donovan brothers act like heroes and assassins, and their lives are enlarged and distorted as a result. The war they wage is a workmanlike affair (and Loach, who loves to show people at work, is very good at depicting the rough-and-tumble of guerrilla warfare), made up of long moments of boredom interspersed with paroxysms of violence. The maxims of insurrection take on a bitter reality here: attacking the enemy only from a position of strength means shooting down a lorry-load of British soldiers like rabbits; being like a fish in water means that the population will be subjected to terrible reprisals.
The film's title comes from an Irish lament:
The Wind That Shakes the Barley. For Loach, the wind of history blows and shakes men with no more regard than it shows for ears of corn. Every time he has directed this spectacle, Loach has taken sides. He continues to do so, but with a serenity and compassion that make The Wind That Shakes the Barley one of his most moving films. (Thomas Sotinel; Le Monde)

Cast : Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Orla Fitzgerald, Mary O'Riordan
Screenplay : Paul Laverty
Cinematography : Barry Ackroyd
Sound : Kevin Brazier
Editing : Jonathan Morris
Music : George Fenton

Production : Sixteen Films, Matador Pictures, Regent Capital

French distributor : Diaphana