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Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

5.0 4
Director: Ken Loach,

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham, Padraic Delaney

Two brothers are caught on differing sides of the battle for Irish freedom in this politically minded historical drama from veteran British filmmaker Ken Loach. It's 1920, and Damien O'Donovan (Cillian Murphy) has recently graduated from medical school. Damien plans to leave the small village in Ireland where


Two brothers are caught on differing sides of the battle for Irish freedom in this politically minded historical drama from veteran British filmmaker Ken Loach. It's 1920, and Damien O'Donovan (Cillian Murphy) has recently graduated from medical school. Damien plans to leave the small village in Ireland where he was born to take a job in London, much to the annoyance of his brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney), who is an Irish loyalist and wants to see the British stripped of their rule of his land. While visiting Peggy (Mary Riordan), a longtime friend of the family, Damien and Teddy witness a visit by "Black and Tans," British soldiers who supposedly keep the peace in Ireland; the soldiers turn violent and murder Michaeil (Lawrence Barry), Peggy's grandson, when they discover he only speaks Gaelic. Damien is radicalized by the event, and with Teddy joins the local chapter of the Irish Republican Army, who use violence to drive British troops out of the country. While the IRA is a poor and ill-equipped fighting force, their willingness to give their lives for their cause is taken very seriously by the British, who step up their reprisals against the locals; the Black and Tans even begin directing their violence and torture against women and children, including Damien's girlfriend, Sinead (Orla Fitzgerald). In 1921, Britain attempts to end the violence in Ireland by creating the Irish Free State, a compromise government which will give the Irish greater autonomy while Great Britain still retains final political control of the nation. Teddy sees this as a victory and believes it's an important first step to a truly free Ireland, but Damien sees the IRA's goal as nothing short of complete independence, and the brothers and allies soon become rivals in a battle neither side can win. The Wind That Shakes the Barley received the Golden Palm award as Best Picture at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
For directors who refuse to orient their audiences through exposition, there's a price to be paid, and Ken Loach pays that price in The Wind That Shakes the Barley. This gripping epic about the Irish War of Independence, made all the more affecting by its exquisite cinematography, is diminished somewhat by Loach's failure to personalize his characters and tell us who's right and who's wrong. On the one hand, Ireland's British occupiers are clearly dead wrong -- they're portrayed one-dimensionally as reprehensible tyrants. But divisions also develop internally between the Irish freedom fighters, and these disagreements have dire consequences to the dissenters. Not knowing who owns the moral high ground, because Loach has been cagey about laying this out for us, is somewhat frustrating, because it leaves us without clear rooting interests. Surely, Loach isn't interested in anything so pedestrian as right and wrong, good and bad. He's more interested in documenting this tumultuous period in Irish history, with its repeated destruction of loyalties, its compromises and failures to compromise. This being the case, it would help to have a more in-depth understanding of his characters as people, not just as the embodiment of sociopolitical philosophies. A few scenes with Cillian Murphy do penetrate in this way, but they stand out as isolated pockets within a dense stream of attacks, imprisonments, tortures, and other plot-heavy logistics. This doesn't mean The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a bad film -- far from it, as its win at Cannes indicates. The lush green countryside captured by DP Barry Ackroyd would, by itself, be worth the price of admission. It just means that Loach can't touch our souls the same way Ackroyd touches our eyeballs, which is problematic in a film that involves the tragic sacrifices made in the name of ideas.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
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[Wide Screen]
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Special 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

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cillian Murphy Damien O'Donovan
Liam Cunningham Dan
Padraic Delaney Teddy
Orla Fitzgerald Sinead
Mary Riordan Peggy
Mary Murphy Bernadette
Lawrence Barry Micheail
Damien Kearney Actor
Frank Bourke Leo
Myles Horgan Rory
Martin Lucey Congo
Aidan O'Hare Steady Boy
Shane Casey Kevin
John Crean Chris
Martin de Cogain Sean
Keith Dunphy Terence
Kieran Hegarty Francis
Gerard Kearney Donacha
Shane Nott Ned
Kevin O'Brien Tim
Gary McCarthy Volunteer
Tim O'Mahon Volunteer
Graham Browne Volunteer
Owen Buckley Volunteer
Aidan Fitzpatick Volunteer
Vince Hannington Volunteer
Denis Kelleher Volunteer
Colin McClery Volunteer
Finbar O'Mahon Volunteer
John Quinlan Volunteer
Peggy Lynch Singer at Wake
Noel O'Donovan Station Guard
Peter O'Manhoney Stoker
Barry Bourke Policeman
Frank O'Sullivan Man in Pub
Diamuíd Ó'Dálaigh Man in Pub
Corina Gough Woman in Search
Roger Allam Sir John Hamilton
Sabrina Barry Julia
William Ruane Johnny Gogan
Dan O'Riordan Elderly Man
Peg Crowley Elderly Woman
Fiona Lawton Lily
Kieran Ahmem Sweeney
Clare Dineen Mrs. Rafferty
Sean McGinley Father Denis
Tomas Ohealaithe Boy on Bike
Nora Lynch Mother of Sick Child
Diamuid Ní Mheachair Sick Child
Denis Conway Priest
Barry Looney Member of Ceilidh Band
Connie O'Connail Member of Ceilidh Band
Aine O'Connor Member of Ceilidh Band
Frances O'Connor Member of Ceilidh Band
O'Riada Peadr Member of Ceilidh Band
Neil Brand Newsreel Piano Accompanist
Tom Chamock British Soldier Sergeant at Cottage
Alan Ready British Soldier Sergeant at Station
Mark Wakeling British Soldier Lieutenant
Anthony Byrne British Soldier Interrogator
Marcus Anthony British Soldier
Bill Armstrong British Soldier
Christopher Brown British Soldier
Mark Bryce British Soldier
Alex Dee British Soldier
Jonny Holmes British Soldier
Allan Huntley British Soldier
Bill Hurst British Soldier
Daniel Kington British Soldier
Jamie Lomas British Soldier
Anthony Martin British Soldier
Owen McQuade British Soldier
Richard Oldham British Soldier
Colin Parry British Soldier
Scott Peden British Soldier
Bernie Sweeney British Soldier
Derek Taylor British Soldier
Neil Alan Taylor British Soldier
Gregor Wood British Soldier

Technical Credits
Ken Loach Director
Barry Ackroyd Cinematographer
Ray Beckett Sound/Sound Designer
Kevin Brazier Sound/Sound Designer
Marc Cass Stunts
Fergus Clegg Production Designer
Team Effects Special Effects Supervisor
Ulrich Felsberg Executive Producer
George Fenton Score Composer
Jeremy Gee Camera Operator
David Gilchrist Asst. Director
Paul Heasman Stunts
Lyn Johnston Makeup
Oonagh Kearney Casting
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Andrew Lowe Executive Producer
Mark Lowry Art Director
Brendan McCarthy Executive Producer
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Higgins Art Director
Carol Moorhead Production Manager
Jonathan Morris Editor
Redmond Morris Co-producer
Rebecca O'Brien Producer
Pat Redmond Special Effects Supervisor
Nigel Thomas Executive Producer
Paul Trijbits Executive Producer
Mark Woods Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Wind That Shakes the Barley
1. Opening Titles [8:54]
2. Micheail's Funeral [3:00]
3. The Oath [3:34]
4. Field Training [5:00]
5. Final Warning [5:03]
6. Manhunt [4:21]
7. Captured [5:53]
8. Singing Support [7:30]
9. Escape [7:30]
10. Death March [6:20]
11. Republican Court [8:08]
12. Ambush [10:54]
13. Home Invasion [6:40]
14. Celebration [11:26]
15. Exit Parade [5:10]
16. Telegram From Dublin [9:25]
17. Weapons Depot [3:51]
18. Final Visitor [9:15]
19. Last Letter [2:35]
20. End Credits [2:32]


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The Wind That Shakes the Barley 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
niafong More than 1 year ago
Amidst the brutal occupation of Northern Ireland by the British, several young lads go out and join Shin Fein/IRA and bomb many English establishments as they are terribly angry. It is a good primer for terrorism now,and makes them sympathetic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutly stunning. Best war movie I've seen since Braveheart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This movie was truely wonderful! I rented it because just on a whim and kept putting it off because it didnt seem like it would be that good, but when i finally watched it i loved it! Cillian Murphy is amazing in this movie! I would def. recommend this movie to everyone!