The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)

Infobox Film
name = The Wind That Shakes The Barley

caption =
director = Ken Loach
producer = Rebecca O'Brien
cinematography = Barry Ackroyd
writer = Paul Laverty
starring = Cillian Murphy
Padraic Delaney
Orla Fitzgerald
Liam Cunningham
music = George Fenton
distributor = Pathe Distribution
budget =
released = flagicon|France 18 May, 2006 (premiere at Cannes)
flagicon|Ireland flagicon|UK 23 June, 2006
flagicon|Canada 07 September, 2006
flagicon|Australia 21 September, 2006
flagicon|USA 14 March 2007 (limited)
runtime = 127 min
language = English, Irish
amg_id = 1:348261
imdb_id = 0460989

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley" is a 2006 Ken Loach film set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–21) and the Irish Civil War (1922–23). Written by long-time Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, this drama tells the story of two County Cork brothers, played by Cillian Murphy and Pádraic Delaney, who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for Irish independence from Great Britain.

Widely praised, the film won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Loach's biggest box office success to date, [ News from the UK Film Council], 23 April 2007] the film did well around the world and set a record in Ireland as the highest-grossing Irish-made independent film ever. [ "Loach Film Sets New Money Mark"], 8 August 2006]


It is 1920, and Damien O'Donovan (Murphy), a young doctor, is about to leave Ireland to work in a London hospital. Meanwhile, his brother Teddy (Delaney) commands the local flying column of the Irish Republican Army. After a hurling match, Damien witnesses the fatal beating of his friend, Micheál Ó Súillebheán, by British paramilitaries. Although shaken, Damien rebuffs his friends' entreaties to stay in Ireland and fight for independence, saying that the IRA is too outnumbered to win. However, as he is boarding a train, Damien witnesses the British Army assaulting a railway official for refusing to allow the troops to board and the subsequent brave resistance of the train driver, and this leads him to change his plans. He is sworn into the IRA and joins Teddy in a guerrilla war against the British.

Determined to retaliate for Micheail's murder, Damien and his IRA brigade raid the local police barracks and steal guns. Then they ambush the Auxiliaries, gunning down four of them in a pub. In the aftermath, Anglo-Irish landowner Sir John Hamilton (Roger Allam) coerces one of his servants, IRA member Chris Reilly (John Crean), into informing. As a result, the entire brigade is arrested by the British Army. In their cell, Damien meets the train driver, Dan (Liam Cunningham), and learns that the union activist shares his socialist opinions. The British interrogator rips out brigade leader Teddy's fingernails when he refuses to name names. Hearing his cries from their nearby cells, Damien and the other prisoners sing the Irish national anthem to distract Teddy from his pain. A young British soldier of Irish descent soon helps all but three of the prisoners escape.

After the involvement of Sir John and Chris is revealed to the IRA, both are taken hostage and marched to a cottage in the mountains. As Teddy is still recovering, Damien is temporarily placed in command. After the torture and execution of the three IRA prisoners, the Brigade receives orders to "execute the spies." Despite the fact that Chris Reilly is a lifelong friend, a rattled Damien shoots both hostages with a revolver. Later, he tells his sweetheart, Cuman na mBan message runner Sinéad Sullivan (Orla Fitzgerald), about the shame of facing Chris Reilly's mother, concluding, "I can't feel anything."

After Damien and Teddy's unit ambushes and defeats an armed convoy of the Auxiliary Division, another detachment of "Auxies" attacks and burns the farmhouse of Sinéad's family. Sinéad is held at gunpoint while her head is shaved and bloodied with sheep shears. Low on ammunition, Damien is restrained by Teddy and can only watch. Later, as Damien comforts Sinéad, a messenger arrives with news of a formal ceasefire between Britain and the IRA. During a village celebration, Damien and Sinéad steal away for a sexual interlude.

When the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty are announced, the IRA divides over whether or not to accept it. Teddy argues for the Treaty and peace, asserting that David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, risked his political career by offering the terms he did. Damien opposes the Treaty for failing to deliver full independence from Britain. Dan further argues that the Treaty will only change "the accents of the powerful and colour of the flag." As the Irish Free State grows stronger, Damien and his Anti-Treaty comrades feel a sense of alienation. When Teddy arrives in his new Irish Army officer's uniform, one of Damien's friends dubs him a "gombeen man." Later, when the village priest preaches in favor of the Free State, Damien interrupts his sermon, denounces the Treaty, and storms out followed by half the congregation. He affiliates himself with the Anti-Treaty IRA and begins training teen-aged recruits in guerrilla warfare.

On the verge of war with his own brother, Teddy reaches out to Damien and asserts that the farmers and businessmen of the district are scared of the socialist rhetoric in his Anti-Treaty pamphlets. Damien responds by saying that the poor are being mistreated and that only socialism can stem the tide of emigration. Teddy asserts that the Free State will "tear up the Treaty as soon as we're strong enough..." Damien says that, by swearing an oath of allegiance to King George V of England, Teddy has wrapped himself in the Union Jack, "the Butcher's Apron."

After the first battle of the Irish Civil War breaks out in Dublin, Damien and his men commence hit-and-run tactics against the new Irish Army. Soon after, Damien is captured during a raid for arms on a Free State barracks and is sentenced to death. As he awaits the firing squad in the same cell where the British had imprisoned them earlier, Teddy pays him a visit. He describes his dream of building a free Ireland where they can both raise families in peace. Teddy pleads with Damien to reveal where the IRA is hiding the stolen arms, offering him full amnesty in exchange. Damien refuses, saying that he killed Chris Reilly for being an informer. Writing a goodbye letter to Sinéad, Damien declares his love for her, adding that he knows what he stands for and that he is not afraid.

At dawn, Damien is marched before a firing squad. As both men fight back tears, Teddy gives the order and the squad fires. Weeping, Teddy unties Damien's body and cradles his brother in his arms. When Teddy delivers Damien's letter to Sinéad, she angrily orders him to leave. Overcome with grief, she falls to her knees, and screams Damien's name.


Although it is focused on Irish history and identity and stars mostly Irish actors, the film was made by British director Loach and was an international co-production between companies in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

The title derives from the song of the same name, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," by 19th century author Robert Dwyer Joyce. The song made the phrase "the wind that shakes the barley" a motif in Irish Republican song and poetry. National University of Ireland, Cork historian Donal O Drisceoil was Loach's historical adviser on the film.

The film was shot in various towns within County Cork during 2005. Some filming took place in Bandon, County Cork: a scene was shot along North Main Street and outside a building next to the Court House (it was from Lee’s Hotel in Bandon (now the Munster Arms) on August 22, 1922. The ambush scene was shot on the mountains around Ballyvorney while the farmhouse scenes were filmed in Coolea.Fact|date=July 2007 The execution scene was filmed at Kilmainham Gaol, scene of many real-life executions during the Irish War of Independence.

Many of the extras in the film were drawn from local Scout groups, [] ] including Bandon, Togher and Macroom with veteran Scouter Martin Thompson in an important role. Many of the British Soldiers seen in the film were played by members of the Irish Army Reserve, from local units.

Amongst the songs on the film's soundtrack is "Oró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile", a 17th century Irish Jacobite song whose lyrics the nationalist leader Pádraig Pearse changed to focus upon Republican themes.


*Cillian Murphy - Damien O'Donovan
*Pádraic Delaney - Teddy O'Donovan
*Liam Cunningham - Dan
*Orla Fitzgerald - Sinead Ó Súillebheán
*Laurence Barry - Micheail Ó Súillebheán
*Mary Murphy - Bernadette
*Mary O'Riordan - Peggy
*Myles Horgan - Rory
*Martin Lucey - Congo
*Roger Allam - Sir John Hamilton
*John Crean - Chris Reilly
*Damien Kearney - Finbar
*Frank Bourke - Leo
*Aidan O'Hare - Steady Boy
*Shane Casey - Kevin
*Máirtín de Cógáin - Sean
*William Ruane - Johnny Gogan
*Fiona Lawton - Lily
*Sean McGinley - Father Denis
*Denis Conway - Priest


The commercial interest expressed in the United Kingdom was initially much lower than in other European countries and only 30 prints of the film were planned for distribution in the UK, compared with 300 in France. However, after the Palme d'Or award the film appeared on 105 screens in the UK.

The RESPECT political party, of which Ken Loach is on the national council, called for people to watch the film on its first weekend in order to persuade the film industry to show the film in more cinemas. [ "The Wind that Shakes the Barley"], 10 June 2006]


The reaction from film critics has generally been positive. As of 5 January, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 102 reviews. [cite web|url= |title=The Wind That Shakes the Barley - Rotten Tomatoes |accessdate=2008-01-05 |publisher=Rotten Tomatoes] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 82 out of 100, based on 30 reviews. [cite web|url= |title=Wind That Shakes the Barley, The (2007): Reviews |accessdate=2008-01-05 |publisher=Metacritic]

The "Daily Telegraph"'s film critic described it as a "brave, gripping drama" and said that director Loach was "part of a noble and very English tradition of dissent" [ "Powerful - but never preachy"] "The Daily Telegraph", 23 June 2006] . A "Times" film critic said that the film showed Loach "at his creative and inflammatory best" [,,14931-2236349,00.html "The Wind that Shakes the Barley"] "The Times", 22 June 2006] , and rated it as 4 out of 5. The "Daily Record" of Scotland gave it a positive review (4 out of 5), describing it as "a dramatic, thought-provoking, gripping tale that, at the very least, encourages audiences to question what has been passed down in dusty history books." [ "Troubles and Strife"] "The Daily Record", 23 June 2006]

Michael Sragow of "The Baltimore Sun" named it the 5th best film of 2007cite web|url= |title=Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists |accessdate=2008-01-05 |publisher=Metacritic] , and Stephen Hunter of "The Washington Post" named it the 7th best film of 2007.

The film was attacked by some commentators, some of whom hadn't seen it, including Simon Heffer. [,,1798042,00.html "Come out fighting"] "The Guardian", 16 June 2006] Following the Cannes prize announcement, Irish historian Ruth Dudley Edwards wrote in the "Daily Mail" on 30 May 2006 that Loach's political viewpoint "requires the portrayal of the British as sadists and the Irish as romantic, idealistic resistance fighters who take to violence only because there is no other self-respecting course," [ "Why does Ken Loach loathe his country so much?"] "The Daily Mail", 30 May 2006] and attacked his career in an article containing inaccuracies. [ "Ken Loach hits back at English tabloids"] Indymedia Ireland, 1 June 2006] The following week, Edwards continued her attack in "The Guardian", admitting that her first article was written without seeing the film (which at that stage had only been shown at Cannes), and asserting that she would never see it "because I can't stand its sheer predictability." [ "What about making Black and Tans: the movie?"] "The Guardian", 6 June 2006] One day after Edwards' initial article appeared, Tim Luckhurst of "The Times" called the movie a "poisonously anti-British corruption of the history of the war of Irish independence" and went so far as to compare Loach to Nazi propagandist director Leni Riefenstahl. [,,6-2204232,00.html "Director in a class of his own"] "The Times", 31 May 2006] Yet George Monbiot revealed on 6 June, also in "The Guardian", that the production company had no record of Luckhurst having attended a critic's screening of the as-yet unreleased film, and Luckhurst refused to comment. [,,1791178,00.html "If we knew more about Ireland, we might never have invaded Iraq"] "The Guardian", 6 June 2006] In a generally positive review, the Irish historian Brian Hanley suggested that the film might have dealt with the IRA's relationship with the Protestant community. [ "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" Sends Revisionists Yapping at History's Heels: Ireland's Freedom Struggle and the Foster School of Falsification"], 11/12 November 2006]

One strain of commentary in Ireland examined the Irish War of Independence as a socialist or class based conflict, as well as a nationalist uprising. [ "Film Review: The Wind That Shakes The Barley"] indymedia Ireland, 2 July 2006] The film has also re-generated debate on rival versions of Irish history. [ "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" Sends Revisionists Yapping at History's Heels: Ireland's Freedom Struggle and the Foster School of Falsification"], 11/12 November 2006] [ [ "Cork Examiner, June 26, 2006: Sectarian Wind Up - a defence of The Wind that Shakes the Barley"] ]


External links

* [ Official site (UK)]
* [ Official site (US)]
*imdb title|id=0460989|title=The Wind That Shakes the Barley
*rotten-tomatoes|id=the_wind_that_shakes_the_barley|title=The Wind That Shakes the Barley
*metacritic film|id=windthatshakesthebarley|title=The Wind That Shakes the Barley
*mojo title|id=windthatshakesthebarley|title=The Wind That Shakes the Barley
*amg movie|id=1:348261|title=The Wind That Shakes the Barley
* [ Interview with Ken Loach about the film] from "Socialist Worker", 10th June 2006
* [ "Wind that Shakes the Barley": A historically accurate film"] review in "The Militant"
* [ Introduction to The Wind That Shakes the Barley script by Luke Gibbons] , see also [ Gibbons reply to Kevin Myers]
* [ debate] about the accuracy and political significance of the film
* [ A left-wing review that says there was much worse than the film showed]

###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
title=Palme d'Or
before="L'Enfant (film)"
after="4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days"

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