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Running Time:
2 hours, 4 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image and some drug references

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Its colorful scenery, political importance, and a great performance by Cillian Murphy all combine to make this one fine film.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Carry On Ken: A Look at the World of Director Ken Loach; Feature commentary with director Ken Loach and historical advisor Professor Donal O'Driscoll

The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Director Ken Loach ("Bread and Roses") and his screenwriting partner Paul Laverty have set their story in the years leading up to the Irish Civil War. It begins by establishing a tranquil game of hurling being played on beautiful tranquil day. One of the players, Damien (Cillian Murphy "Red Eye") a doctor was planning to leave for London and a medical career, but almost immediately following the game their festive mood is broken by the arrival of a group of extraordinarily aggressive British troops, the Black and Tans. After they commit an unjust murder, Damien decides to oins his brother (Padraic Delaney) in the Irish Republican Army’s attempts to drive the British from their country. The Black & Tans were not part of the regular British army. They were sent in by the British Government to crush the rebellion and had been indoctrinated to believe the Irish were less than humans. Their brutality led to a cycle of violence and a guerilla war that becomes increasingly more violent.

After a string of British successes, a truce is finally declared. Sinn Fein signs a Treaty with the British Government which is seen by many as a betrayal. Northern Ireland is to remain part of the British empire and the men are forced to swear their allegiance to the Crown, giving up their economic independence. As the group of friends splinters apart, its clear that peace has come at a bitter price.

Ken Loach's film clearly shows both the effects of war and class struggle on all the participants, both British and Irish. There's a partiulalry poignant scene when Damien has to execute a traitor who is also a friend that he's known all his life. Politics underlines this story of young people constantly living with fear and the constant possibility of death, as they make life altering decisions everyday.

The only negative moments in the film are in the long debates in which the battle-lines between the pro-Treaty and anti-Treatyites are drawn. But the truth is, these debates reverberated for the rest of the 20th century. Perhaps this is simply the consequence of a film-maker attempting to clearly communicate these enormously complicated historical situations which clearly divided the UK. Despite many scenes of violence, this is an exceptional work of cinematic art that is filled with dynamic performances by its all-Irish cast.

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