The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

57° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

    The Wind That Shakes the Barley

    Ken Loach’s latest film, ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley,’ is a dark historical drama that takes place during the transition from the end of the Irish Revolution against the British through the beginning of the Irish Civil War. The story is of two brothers who fought side by side to free Ireland from the British, but are pitted against one another in the gruesome civil war that rips their country apart.

    Damien (Cillian Murphy), a young Irish doctor, is planning on moving to London to practice medicine, despite being accused by his friends and family of being a deserter.’ He wants to help people, and feels that he can do more good as a doctor than a guerrilla soldier in the occupied and devastated Ireland. When he witnesses one too many acts of heinous cruelty by the British, Damien chooses to stay and fight for his country’s freedom.

    Damien fights faithfully by his older brother’s side, Teddy (Padraic Delaney), who is leading a coalition of young men and women against the British occupants.’ Despite their impossibly close bond of brotherhood, Damien and Teddy are viciously torn apart when Britain grants partial freedom to Ireland. Damien continues to fight for complete freedom while Teddy ironically becomes the tyrannous authority that replaces the oppressors whom he had so despised.

    Murphy has played all sorts of characters, from a diabolical killer in ‘Red Eye’ to a charming, dreaming transvestite in ‘Breakfast on Pluto.’ Given his dreamy blue eyes and soft, feminine good looks, Murphy brings a paradoxical but appropriate sweetness to the conflicted Damien.’ His transition from the man holding the gun to the prisoner looking down the barrel of the gun is effortless. His portrayal of Damien, whose ultimately unwavering convictions steer him to his fate, is amazing.

    Director Loach and writer Paul Laverty do not shy away from thrusting the truth of war into the faces of the audience.’ The bloodshed and horror contrast strikingly against the picturesque backdrop of Ireland‘s lush, magnificent countryside.’ Despite the beautiful greenery, it is impossible to ignore how the sky is always overcast, and death and destruction loom in the imminent future.’ War is not beautiful and heroic, especially here, when countryman is pitted against countryman, neighbor against neighbor, and worse still, brother against brother.

    The drama is sharpened by the interesting and almost dizzying camera movement.’ From beginning to end, the camera is swishing from right to left, up and down, and never sits still for more than a few seconds.’ This documentary-like camera work gives a sense of heightened reality that works to intensify the horror of Teddy and Damien’s actions, decisions, and experiences.

    The characters of ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ are so affecting, and the story so resonant, that the film’s dramatic ending leaves the audience unsettled, not because it was unsatisfactory, but because it was real.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *