The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Reviewed by Steve Sailer for The American Conservative
April 9, 2007
Neoconservatives who extol Winston Churchill's adamancy never mention that in 1921, after
Why did the
Loach, the 70-year-old English movie director, is an old-fashioned lefty of the didactic Marxist sort. His films include "A Contemporary Case for Common Ownership" and "Which Side Are You On?" Not surprisingly, these haven't made him a big name in
In recounting the history of a rebellion, with its endless alternations of terrorism and reprisal, you have to start the story at some particular incident, which inevitably biases your allocation of blame. Loach's sympathies are heavily with the IRA, the more radical the better, so he begins in 1920 when the Black and Tans (tough demobbed British WWI vets sent to Ireland to augment the police, but given little appropriate training) rough up some fine Irish lads enjoying a game of hurling, killing a boy for the crime of speaking only Gaelic.
If he wanted to be more even-handed, Loach could have commenced the previous year when the IRA began attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary, necessitating the dispatching of the Black and Tans.
Or, then again, he could have begun with any date going back to 1167, when the first English soldiers arrived (at the invitation of an Irish king to assist his war with another local king). Compared to
"Barley" tells of two fictional
The brothers roughly represent, transformed to merely a local scale, those initial partners and eventual enemies in Irish revolution, Éamon de Valera, the math professor and intellectual turned future president, and Michael Collins, the postman turned general. (In 1996's "Michael Collins," they were played by Alan Rickman and Liam Neeson, respectively).
Murphy, the dark-haired young actor from
Murphy's skull-like head and intense eyes (he'd make an ideal Lenin) become more suited to the role of Doctor Damien as the healer turned killer, a Hibernian Che Guevara, grows ever more fanatically radical. He denounces his brother for supporting the compromise peace that Collins brokered with Churchill and David Lloyd George, and demands that the Irish guerillas, with their 3,500 rifles, fight the entire British Empire to the death in the name of socialism. (Loach's better dead than not red mindset perversely mischaracterizes the stance of the anti-Treaty fighters led by the deeply Catholic de
In Loach's worldview, a resemblance to Lenin is to be cherished, but less bloodthirsty viewers will increasingly sympathize with Damien's brother Teddy, the man of violence who chooses peace for his people, but at a terrible price to his family.
Not rated, but would be R for language and torture.