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As Strong as a Pint of Guinness

  • May 7, 2007
'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' transports us to its setting like few movies do. Like a taste of Ireland's Guinness Beer, the movie makes a strong impression that leaves a long aftertaste. Screenwriter Paul Laverty and Director Ken Loach take us to Ireland in 1920 when modern tensions met an apex. Brothers Damien (Cillian Murphy) and Paddy (Padriac Delaney) form with others, working with the IRA and political group, Sein Finn, to bring Ireland to independence. From the start a stark contrast is made between the simplicity of decent people living in thatched, stone houses and the palpable brutality of British forces reigning in the resistance of labor unions. Once a young resident is killed for refusing to divulge his name in English, the wheel of violence starts rolling. Underarmed and often divided, the men try to hold their own against the British through clever tactics and ambushes. When they get England's attention, they can broker for peace on certain terms or take advantage for complete Irish sovereignty. The discord amongst the two brothers is a study in the choice for peace and a compromise--or to fight all the way to independence. Some of the best scenes show the Irish people divided, especially the quiet arguing between Damien and Paddy. It's easy to see why with such meager resources and inner squabbling, the Irish resistance didn't succeed as well as Rob Roy or Michael Collins.

With beautiful scenery, desperate violence that make the battle scenes seem all too real, and a fragile comraderie amongst truly wronged people, 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley' harvests a rich viewing experience.

(The recent peace agreement among the Nationalists and Loyalists in Ireland is certainly heartening--the day after I saw this movie--even if the conflict in the movie is between the Irish and English.)

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April 18, 2011
great stuff, JP!!
April 19, 2011
Thanks for reading my review and your compliment, Woopak. You know it's nice to read these older reviews when I don't have to be as critical of myself, and you have reminded me of how fine a movie this one is.
More The Wind That Shakes the Barle... reviews
review by . April 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A brutal, sad, powerful film of the Irish rebellion in the Twenties
Ireland in the early Twenties exploded into armed rebellion against the British. In The Wind That Shakes the Barley, two brothers at first made opposite decisions. A group of Black and Tan British soldiers arrive at a farm where the brothers and a group of other young men are resting after a hurling game. The British terrorize everyone there, the men, the women, the aged and the young. They beat and kill one man for refusing to give his name in English. When they roar off, one brother, Teddy (Padraic …
review by . January 02, 2008
I liked this film, although it wasn't perfect. It was well done, by an all Irish cast, filmed on location, or close to it, and fairly true to history for a piece of fiction. The brutality and the bitterness of the conflict are done realistically, although the violence is not glorified. Nonetheless, I found parts of the film rather dry, and it was longer than it needed to be. That detracted from my emotional involvement with the characters.     The story is a good one, and the …
review by . September 13, 2007
Pros: Decent acting      Cons: Everything else      The Bottom Line: I will reiterate the last line in the review: Finally I just didn't care.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.      The Wind that Shakes the Barley covers two parts of the struggle for the Northern Irish to gain their own state. So it is a political film.      The movie begins …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #99
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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