The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason
On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan
What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith
The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith
Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh
Spirit of Contradiction >>
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005
Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein?
Irish Examiner bias Anthony
RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein Anthony
Hong Kong and democracy Anthony
Oliver Callan: Back in his box Anthony
Public Inquiry >>
A bird's eye view of the vineyard
Syrian Army Fights ISIS In Homs. SDF Rejects Deal With Damascus Mon Jul 06, 2020 18:48 | amarynth
South Front Clashes between government forces and ISIS terrorists have continued in central Syria since July 2, when ISIS cells stormed army positions in eastern Homs. In response, the Syrians
Kazakhstan may hold the secret for Greater Eurasia Mon Jul 06, 2020 18:42 | amarynth
Submitted by Pepe Escobar ? source Asia Times The no holds barred US-China strategic competition may be leading us to the complete fragmentation of the current ?world-system? ? as Wallerstein
USA ? Most Aggressive Military Power in the World. Those Who Have Friends Like That Don?t Need Enemi... Sun Jul 05, 2020 23:19 | Leo V.
Translated by Dagmar and subtitled by Leo. Original German description in English: Trump had “threatened” for a long time and now actually wants to withdraw 10,000 US soldiers from Germany.
Moveable Feast Cafe 2020/07/05 ? Open Thread Sun Jul 05, 2020 15:00 | Herb Swanson
2020/07/05 14:00:02Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
US national media is useless ? so tell me the good local news sources? Sat Jul 04, 2020 22:09 | amarynth
by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog During the recent wave of rebellions in the US I was reminded of just how woefully, woefully inadequate the US nationwide media truly
The Saker >>
A Blog About Human Rights
Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights
Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights
US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights
UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights
Fijian women still face Human Rights violations Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49 | Human Rights
Human Rights in Ireland >>
Search author name words: James R
Film Review: The Wind That Shakes The Barley
arts and media |
Sunday July 02, 2006 17:33 by James R
Worthwhile Stereotypes, Templates and Routines?
Just after returning from watching Ken Loach's Palm D'or reaping drama The Wind That Shakes The Barley and like most feel slightly compelled to add one or two words to the flurry of type and hype that has accompanied the movies release on these shores. The Wind That Shakes The Barley is a typical Loach movie betraying many of the core techniques of his previous outtings. Again he relies on plunging a shallowly crafted personal relationship, this time between two brothers, into a set of tragic circumstances. These circumstances provide an emotional cover for his overly didactic political approach to popularising alternative historical mythologies that challenge the authors of a victors' history. This time the contested historicity is the rabid nationalism of the Irish text book, that sweeps aside socialist and labour based movements in the process of consolidation of the free state.
Loach as usual creates his alternative historical narratives brilliantly. As before in the Spanish Civil War epic Land and Freedom, his pastiche of Orwell's experiences in Homage to Catalonia, which he gave a romantic flurry that nearly ends on two opposite ends of the barriacades outside the Barcelona telephone exchange. He also returns to his routine technique of using moments of extended tense political debate to foreground the various shades of arguments operating within the historical juncture he is focussing on. In Land and Freedom this was deployed around collectivisation of the village as well as militarisation and in Bread and Roses it was used during the discussions on joining a union. Here he pushes an anti-treaty agenda based on the social policy of the democratic programme of the first Dail to the front during arguments in a republican court that challenges the extortionate income charged by a local gombeen man and later prior to the Treaty vote itself.
Equally, a quintessential part of Loach's work is his use of characters that roll across the screen as near archetypes, each representing different political persausions and social back grounds. Its no surprise again to see Loach fall back on the idea of the "sell out". The reformist who takes the uniform of the new state and falls back in line with wealth and elites. In this new film, it's the Cillian Murphy character's brother who takes the bait - while in his Catalan epic, a college educated American communist plays the same role. Another routine stereotype from Irish folk histroy here is Dan, the Jackeen train driving union man who brings the workshop's and field's socialism of Connolly down to the rural backwater village where the films terse action takes place.
The routinely wheeled out movie critics of the Irish media really managed to display a tremendous historical ignorance in discussions of this movie. Accusing Loach of brushing over IRA thuggery and painting an anti-imperial propaganda piece that leaves the English nation damned. Loach does neither of these things. Despite the 2-d nature of much of his character development there is marked moments of subtlety in painting the black and tans. He makes it apparent they are the shell shocked victims of a British ruling class who have left them "up to their necks in shit, blood and vomit for four years in the trenches." This is a tension that is completely excorcised from the standard nationalist narratives of the war of independence, the moment where a young British soldier effectively mutinies and frees republican prisoners is a wonderful adage hinting at disaffection among the lower ranking British pommie during WW1 and the popular slogan "mutiny is the conscience of war" painted on trench walls.
With so many claiming Loach romanticises the irregular movement during the period, it was odd to find myself thinking that the most apt commentater in public yet has been the arts minister John O'Donaghue. Displaying on Newstalk, a keen knowledge of the submerged role of socialist ideas and the Connollyite legacy on the anti-treaty side when arguing that Loach was far from a fantasist. On a popular culture level Loach is doing nothing new with this movie, but that noone remembered Ronan Bennet's controversially scripted mini series for RTE back a few years ago, Rebel Heart , is odd and foregrounds the importance of the Loach brand. Dealing with exactly the same themes of how dreams of a workers republic were betrayed and stunted, the lack of note given to this RTE series is telling in how willing people are to slide back into the myths of Mother Ireland and perhaps explains quite a bit of the muffled response given to Loach's movie by both conservatives and revisionists.
Left wondering why Loach didn't just make a movie on the Limerick Soviet or concentrate on the exploits of Peader O'Donnell or Saor Eire put me in the mind that Loach really is someone who should be placed in the same category as Brecht. These are dramatists of little subtlety, who use their work to foreground a system of exploitation and recuperation that transverses different historical periods. This is a very modernist sense of mass education, popularising the idea of struggle from below and celebrating the undefeated and utterly indefatigable spirit of all under dogs. While Mike Leigh summons a darker, microcosmic reflection on the effects of class on people's lives making him sit straddled across the legacy of kitchen sink drama with all the brooding prowess of an Eastenders marriage break up. Ken Loach's movies are the Coronation Street of class struggle, ordinary everyday good natured folk thrown into moments of severe historical rupture and forced to deal with the constant betrayal of the working class by leaders and elites. That such lessons can be drawn so often, goes some way to explaining the cast iron soap like stereotypes, templates and routines that he resorts to so readily to illustrate them in his work.
Anyone interested in checking out another Loach movie can do worse that headling along to the next fundraiser for the IWU, which is hosting a showing of the excellent Ken Loach film ‘Bread and Roses’ on the struggle for Trade Union rights faced by workers. The night will also include revolutionary music from Ireland and across the globe. The screening is on Friday 28th July, Lloyd’s Bar, Amiens St, Dublin 1. The time was never mentioned on the event listing on this site, so maybe someone out there knows?