I went to see this film about a forthnight ago. When it finished and the four of us, An Italian, A french couple and myself, were seated on the red velvet seats of the old fashioned cinema. Nobody moved. 'Oh well' I said, thinking that if I didn't move no one would. My companions were slow to rise up. Outside, I proposed going for a beer to talk about the film, the French lady said , 'What else is there to say?' They seemed deeply effected ( or is that affected?) by what they had seen. Even though it was a very familiar story, an no where near as violent as many films today, I was in a turmoil. It stayed with me and is still present. I am Irish because of my wonderful culture, my outlook, my history and the place I was born. But it does raise the question of identity that I have perhaps touched on in many of my posts. I am not like most Irish people I know. The story portrayed is an international one, not just an Irish one. My own civil war continues in my soul as I struggle with my nations history, dreams, and reality, and therefore too, my own.
I cannot do any justice to this film save showing you here an email I wrote to the company of the director of the film........
I hope this email finds you keeping well. I wanted to write to Mr. Loach to tell him how I feel about his recent film. Le vent se leve, or The Wind That Shakes the Barley. I am a man from Ireland who now lives somewhat unwillingly, but not always, in the South of France.
I was born in 1967 and I remember well in the 1970's passing across the ' border ' to visit relatives in Dungannon or Coalisland, and the 7 of us(my mother and six children of whom I was the youngest) being made stand by the side of the road in the rain, as soldiers pulled our small Fiat 850 apart in search of bombs.
I was hoping to write a reveiw of the film on my blog but I haven't managed to as yet.
You see I have carried for a long time what many would call a chip on my shoulder. I hate the notion of a 700 year old chip, mine is or was the same age as myself and created by the society in which I grew up, and was incultured in. I am not even sure if it is right to call it a 'chip' as there was a good reason for it to be there.
I have spent my years trying to first of all explain to Irish people why they should be angry, and then to the many wonderful English people I have met, why I myself was so angry, perturbed, annoyed and angry again.
Many times my heart was broken by paramilitaries as I struggled with the wonderful notions of Connolly for an Ireland united and free, and witnessed, the struggle, the war, the fight, the hate, the loss and the general humanity and senselessness of it all.
Many times I have been involved in discussion groups, political groups, liturgical groups, psychological groups, all geared towards finding a solution no matter how futile it seemed. I never lost and always had tons of hope and vision. This alone prevented me from ever becomming bitter. Thank the Gods I never got bitter.
What I am trying to communicate is this. The film has now allowed me to let go in many ways that were just plain unthinkable before. I don't have to defend or explain or carry the chip anymore. I can just tell people who ask, go and see that film by Ken Loach, The Wind That Shakes the Barely.
I cannot with all the years of film studies I have done, all the attempts at scripts, after the 1000's of films I have watched in my life actually reveiw the film. As a friend said when we finally walked outside, 'what else is there to say?'. The film says it all. Anything else is a verbal superflousity that would be inaccurate and wasted and not do justice to the work.
I would like to thank Ken for his time and his effort. I heard him say the other day he would like people to share the burden of the criticism or some such sentiment. I would say to him take it all and bathe in it. It is a true sign of having touched a truth that for many years even in modern times is all too well hidden.
Thank you for not dramatising hollywood style the violence. If I ever get to write my own film I hope it's half as good as this one. Not only should you have got the palme d'or but the Golden Lion and that small bauble the Hollywood set measure the value of their life work too.
I am not the one to heap plaudits on Mr Loach for his film or on his team, and having been both an actor and runner, and even a Loader in the past I do understand what it takes.
I just wanted to say thanks. I wanted to shake his hand give him a hug and maybe have the opportunity to chat sometime if our paths cross over a nice bottle of Muscat, or Rose or beer or Chianti or whatever his favourite tipple is.
Please please forward this to Mr Loach.
PS even this email cannot touch the profound effect this film has had on me.
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