Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Our Time of Troubles as seen from Ken Loach

The Wind That Shakes the Barley by Ken Loach.
(Loach, r. accepting the Palme d'Or, May 2006)

(note: I viewed this film earlier this year, from a European print, and will admit I was underwhelmed, in fact, disappointed, upon the first viewing. But, I watched again. Because I like Ken Loach. I needed a second viewing. I've always been affected by the Irish history and diaspora. I have an Irish background, albeit by adoption after birth, on my father's side. His family immigrated here during the Potato Famine of the 1840's, if I'm not mistaken. He worked every day of his life, yet had little joy, always seemed reconciled to life's travails, almost beaten down, with hardships his entire life. His two older brothers died during the Influenza epidemic right after WW I. His mother died a couple years later, when he was still under 10. His father died from a suicide, when he was in his 30's. Yet, he seemed to understand the troubles was just part of being "Irish". He wasn't melancholic; he possessed other Irish qualities: a gift of gab and story telling, loved the women, and the whiskey, too. This film reveals the heartache of brothers and families pitted against each other in the conflict with the British. When, as a child even, I would ask my father why do the Irish and Brits fight against each other, he'd only say "The English have just always tried to dominate everyone, and pit one against each other. " He would then urge me to "Always question authority." Loach's film looks closer, and reveals how deep the conflict goes.

I highly recommend you see The Wind That Shakes The Barley. For a first-rate interview, with Loach by Damon Smith, go to the Bright Lights Journal, May 2007 edition, which can be read here: http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/56/kenloachiv.htm. The BLJ is an exceptional film resource which I also urge you subscribe to. Many thanks to Gary Morris, editor and publisher at BLJ and the entire staff for their outstanding work. - MS