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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Wind That Shakes The Barley

The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Ken Loache’s film about Ireland in 1919 and the unanimous winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, has been much criticized by the British press.

A “poisonously anti-British corruption of the history of the war of Irish independence … The Wind That Shakes the Barley is not just wrong. It infantilises its subject matter and reawakens ancient feuds.” Tim Luckhurst, The Times.

Loach “hates this country, yet leeches off it, using public funds to make his repulsive films. And no, I haven’t seen it, any more than I need to read Mein Kampf to know what a louse Hitler was.” Simon Heffer, The Telegraph.

It’s “a brutally anti-British film … designed to drag the reputation of our nation through the mud”. The Sun.

“Old-fashioned propaganda” and “a melange of half-truths”. Ruth Dudley Edwards, Daily Mail.

It helps to “legitimise the actions of gangsters”. Michael Gove, The Times.

Wonderful critics, on whom we depend to help formulate our opinions. None of them have seen the film.

12 Responses to “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”

  1. Ole Blue says:

    Reminds me of the social conservatives here in the US who will tell you a film is immoral, repugnant etc. yet have never seen the film they degrade.

  2. skint writer says:

    Loach must be doing something right, who’d want plaudits from that pile of tossers anyway.

  3. crimeficreader says:

    The BBC’s website says: “…Loach, 69, has said the film, which describes the early days of the IRA in the 1920s from an Irish perspective, is also a critique of the US-led invasion of Iraq…”.

    Being 40+ (please thank me for my honesty, [LOL], but I’m also proud thank you!), I grew up with a BBC news that I now suspect hit the UK perspective only. Thus, I also suspect, Loach’s film, in pursuing the Irish perspective, may be the first thing that offends the reviewers? (Those on a certain payroll or under contract?)

    Secondly, they refer on that site page to the film as “… is also a critique of the US-led invasion of Iraq”. That too, is currently sensitive enough to warrant more than a second thought in our contemporary lives. More so today,as a prime “scalp” has been mentioned in the media.

    But Ireland? I’d like to know more and to understand more. I’ve often felt that I’d like to know more of the history of where we are today and why. Thus, Loach’s film may be a good place for me to start.

    I believe I have an open mind, which is a good strength, when coming to viewing. Objectivity, the DNA of my (normal and professional) work will now seek out this film.

    Above all, I’d really like to be informed as to the view of the Irish when it comes to what has happened in NI over the years. Previously, the Northern Irish were an unknown quantity to me, but I recently had the privlege of an ex-next-door neighbour, who was born there and even more recently, a visit myself to Belfast.

    I’d like to understand. If Loach’s film helps me, then bu**er the reviews, I’ll take a look.

    An open mind means all sides after all. And the addition of history, even if from the Irish camp, will enlighten me.

    I feel I need to know. I feel I need to know the history and both sides of the equation. Loach’s film will help me.

    Again, bu**er the reviews. It’s the watching and objective opinion making that matters.

  4. Bill says:

    God Bless you Ken Loach, for having the courage to tell a story that has been SUPPRESSED for 90 years…

  5. Cormac says:

    It’s a great film. If an Irish director had made something like it, there would have been an outcry over here from the usual self-loathing stooges who try to undermine Irish nationalism. But because an Englishman made it, the criticism has been muted.

  6. Camillus says:

    Anybody with a brain capable of independent thought should see that the bullshit from these “reviewers” who haven’t even seen the film is all the more reason to see it and make their own minds up. It’s a terrific film. Yes, the Black and Tans are shown as brutal, but are they really suggesting they were not? If it’s full of half-truths, what is the alternative take offered by these scribes? The republicans are far from idealised – the heartbreaking killing of the young boy, the tragic fratricidal civil-war. Yes, there is politics there, but it’s shown in a highly personal way, how it affected ordinary people. See it for yourself, make up your own mind.

  7. Peter Duffy says:

    A good film -yes – but a film that spends far too long showing the brutality of the British (we get the message very clearly that they were abusive, screaming and violent thugs within the first 20 minutes!). More time should have been devoted to establishing characters / relationships (so that you actually cared about what happens to them, which I didnt) and also to the far more interesting aspect of the discord/violence that erupted between the Irish themselves.

  8. Lotus says:

    This movie is going to be showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) next week. I hadn’t planned on seeing it, but seeing the conversation it has generated, I just might!

  9. Sean McShane says:

    I hope that those who have been able to see this sparsely distributed film, will continue to learn more about Ireland’s long struggle for independence. The film is being shown all over the rest of Europe and not just in arthouse cinemas either, That must tell you something about “sour grapes”. Ken Loach is like a prophet, shunned in his own country and rightfully praised everywhere else.
    Sean McShane.

  10. aine says:

    i am currently studying this film as part of my AS level media studies course. fortunatly because of this i can gain an objective understanding from both sides. i still live in the age of people who have hatred towards the British for their actions, however i feel that in todays society it should not be such an issue!!as a northern irish citizen i feel the history should most definitly be repected and remembered but times have changed and a move on from this period is needed. loach’s film in my view is an excellant account of events which reduced me to tears on a number of occasions, i have herd many a tale and story from those i know who lived through the times which i, without fear openly criticise if i feel the need. however the viewing of this film surmised my views and opinions of this irish history and i do think it is an accurate account of events…with little exaggeration. brutal as it may be this film very much reflects the verismilitude of its time. although this may be hard to contend with truth cannot be denied. one point i have to add though is that in my mind i feel the irish were as bad…however with the english, “throwing the first punch”.

    jb says: Hi Aine. Everyone, almost everyone, acts badly in a war situation. But in the case to which you refer I believe that the British government should accept the main burden of blame. They should have acted as arbiters between the different Irish factions and never have sent troops in.

  11. órla says:

    Excellent film. Loach has included a breif lovestory and a select amount of violence and drama so that this film is suitable for viewing by all audiences. Directed by an englishman with accurate accounts of the truth that has been disguised for too long. My hats off to you dear ken loach!

  12. chelsea says:

    Ken Loach has done some good movies like Kes. I do not see hatred towards the UK in his movies. These people need to grow up. We were wrong to put down the Irish. I do not see why it is anti british to say that. Is it anti German to say Hitler was wrong?

    jb says: I think most of us support what you’re saying, Chelsea.