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The Wind That Shakes The Barley - Preview

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Preview by Jack Foley

CILLIAN Murphy has united with Ken Loach for The Wind That Shakes The Barley, a politically charged movie about the Irish civil war.

The film has been chosen to play in competition at the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival (2006) and could land Loach the Palme d’Or to add to the two Special Jury Prizes he has already won for Hidden Agenda (1990) and Raining Stones (1993). The director also won the Ecumenical Jury Prize for Land and Freedom in 1995.

Set in Ireland in 1919, the film follows a group of workers from field and country as they unite to form guerrilla armies against the ruthless ‘Black and Tan’ squads that are being shipped from Britain to block the country’s bid for independence.

Murphy plays Damien, a character driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, who abandons a career as a doctor to join his brother, Teddy, in the fight for freedom.

As the tactics of the freedom fighters bring the British to breaking point, both sides finally agree a treaty to end the bloodshed.

But civil war erupts and families who fought side by side find themselves pitted against one another as sworn enemies.

For Loach, the film continues the strong political vein of his work that has to far included Kes and Land and Freedom.

But as he told The Independent following the Cannes announcement: “This sets out to tell the story as accurately as you can, but I think it’s part of our joint history with Ireland that we don’t tell very often because the British government doesn’t emerge very well from it.

He added. “It was a time when Ireland got independence, albeit partial independence, and the legacy of that is obviously still with us today.”

The film is sure to be controversial given the current state of the peace process but which adds a new and intriguing movie into the current spate of politically-charged filmmaking. The fact that it focuses on and sympathises with freedom fighters is sure to stir emotions.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley is supported by the National Lottery, through the UK Film Council, and James Purnell, Creative Industries minister, said it was pleasing to see strong British films backed by the lottery in the running for the Palme d’Or.

“This shows that lottery money is continuing to make an absolutely essential contribution to our film industry,” he said.

Paul Trijbits, of the Film Council, added that it was clear that British film talent “continues to produce films which excite the most prestigious film festival in the world”.

He also described The Wind That Shakes The Barley as one of Loach’s most powerful films that has been delivered in a typically uncompromising way.

After its Cannes performance, the film is due to open in UK cinemas in June.

Ken Loach takes the Palme d’Or