Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley

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From his early days as a director in the 1960’s, Ken Loach has applied a documentary style to the dramas and films he has made. His cinematic approach and handling of The Wind that Shakes the Barley, shows that 40 years on, this technique is still evident but honed. This film does not feel like a documentary as such, but the naturalistic handling of scenes draws the viewer into the drama and the realism employed is bruising. The lack of sentimentality in the director’s approach makes the harrowing scenes of execution and violence hard to watch. The film does not lack humanity though, the sense of injustice and loss experienced by the native Irish community and their stoicism in grief is sensitively depicted. The harsh deeds of war in the film are mellowed by the beautiful settings used as a backdrop.
The film was shot in West Cork, an area of outstanding beauty. This is
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The historical events documented in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley are essential to the understanding of Irish politics and history. Most Irish people are aware of the brutal exploits of the Black and Tans in suppressing the movement towards Irish independence but are probably less familiar with the schisms that the pro and anti-Treaty caused between neighbours, friends and families. The wider audience of students in Britain and further afield, probably are less aware of the government-sanctioned atrocities perpetrated by the Black and Tans. This film leaves them better equipped to comprehend the nuances of past and current political problems in Ireland, North and South. To a student of film, this film offers a chance to study Ken Loach at his finest. Over the decades his style and political stance have remained remarkably constant but the Wind that Shakes the Barley probably represents the pinnacle of his accomplishments as a

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