Cinema - The Wind That Shakes the Barley

I very nearly wed an Irish girl. In the end we decided to split up instead of getting married. One of the many bones of contention was that I was English. She wanted me to apologise to her for the war crimes committed by the British in her country. I refused, saying they were nothing to do with me. Was I being obtuse? Probably. The British are very rarely forced to contemplate the many atrocities perpetrated in the name of King and Country during the Empire days. In The Wind That Shakes the Barley, English director Ken Loach examines the 1918 Irish Rising and its aftermath through Irish eyes. Two brothers, played by Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney, join the guerrilla movement formed to fight for independence from British rule, against the brutally repressive Black and Tans. The British government eventually capitulate, but their terms for peace include the Irish Free State still being part of the Empire. A civil war breaks out between those who want to accept the settlement and those who want to continue the struggle: the brothers find themselves fighting for different sides.

The film premiered to mixed reviews in Cannes: it was said to be pedestrian, but atmospheric. But it an important film: to fully understand the issue of sovereignty in Ireland we must examine the British government’s role in dividing the country’s loyalties in the 1920’s. Whether we each need to apologise for it is a different matter. AL

There may be Troubles ahead: Ken Loach’s film looks at the Irish Rising
All Saints Centre, Lewes
When? 8.50pm (also Sun, Mon 8.50pm)
How Much? £4.50
Lewes Cinema
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