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The wind that shakes the barley - Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Ken Loach

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Ireland 1919: workers from field and country unite to form volunteer guerrilla armies to face the ruthless "Black and Tan" squads that are being shipped from Britain to block Ireland's bid for independence. Driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, Damien (Cillian Murphy) abandons his burgeoning career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy (Padraic Delaney), in a dangerous and violent fight for freedom.

As the freedom fighters' bold tactics bring the British to breaking point, both sides finally agree to a treaty to end the bloodshed. But, despite the apparent victory, civil war erupts and families who fought side by side, find themselves pitted against one another as sworn enemies, putting their loyalties to the ultimate test.

Theatrical propaganda posters

The wind that shakes the barley imageThe wind that shakes the barley image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Ireland Irish independence Britain soldier treaty civil war drama true historical freedom

Persons of interest

  • Cillian Murphy .... Damien
  • Padraic Delaney .... Teddy
  • Liam Cunningham .... Dan
  • Gerard Kearney .... Dunica
  • William Ruane .... Gogan
  • Siobhan McSweeney .... Julia
  • Roger Allam .... Sir John Hamilton
  • Frank Bourke .... Leo
  • Antony Byrne .... The Interrogator
  • John Crean .... Chris
  • Máirtín de Cógáin .... Sean
  • Orla Fitzgerald .... Sinead
  • Myles Horgan .... Rory
  • Bill Hurst .... British Army Major
  • Damien Kearney .... Finbar
  • Martin Lucey .... Congo
  • Sean McGinley .... Priest
  • Seamus Moynihan .... Policeman
  • Shane Nott .... Ned
  • Paul Laverty .... Screenwriter
  • Ken Loach .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

The wind that shakes the barley is surprisingly unexciting. It portrays the times well - there's plenty of dirt, violence and funny clothes - but it just doesn't get up and go. If cut down by around 12 minutes I could easily recommend the film as an educational tool but getting kids to sit down for two hours and seven minutes is a big ask.

Dramatically there's a lot going on, with romance, hatred, torture, violence, brother set against brother, sociological declamation for days. The actors are good, too. Historically, one should keep in mind that whatever the British did to the Irish, the Irish did to the British first (see Tristan and Isolde).

External analyses

Although I found your site quiet interesting I must point out a grave historical error. Your review of The wind that shakes the barley contains the following line, "Historically, one should keep in mind that whatever the British did to the Irish, the Irish did to the British first (see Tristan and Isolde)." I find this entirely offensive and any remotely honest review of the facts would immediately reveal this not to be the case. Tristan and Isolde is a work of fiction. In fact your review of that film states as much by describing it as "Film myth legend England knight sword fight battle love romance Ireland tribe war king". From 1169 [CE] until the era in which this film was set the Irish nation suffered brutally at the hands of its English oppressor. Too many people died to leave such a flippant, inaccurate and blatantly revisionist remark stand on what is otherwise a good site. - Peter Walsh

I was deeply offended by the recent review on your website for The wind that shakes the barley. It is bad enough that the comment, "Historically, one should keep in mind that whatever the British did to the Irish, the Irish did to the British first", show a complete misunderstanding of the historical circumstances that led up to the depicted uprising (and "subsequent" IRA attacks on British soil), but that the evidence for such an outlandish claim (see Tristan and Isolde), is itself a patent work of fiction (see Lord of the rings), based on myth and folklore, rather than historical accuracy, not to mention the extreme gap in time between the supposed events in Tristan & Isolde and those depicted in Ken Loach's film. In essence the validity of your claim has about as much as truth as the suggestion that the attacks on New York on 9/11 were a response against Luke Skywalker's destruction of the Death Star in Star wars. It would be considerate of you to alter the review to reflect this glaring inaccuracy, or express the point of view in some less insensitive manner. - Josh Nelson

This review states that whatever acts of violence inflicted by the British soldiers against the Irish were in some way legitimised by Irish actions against the British in previous years. Given that the basis for this statement was the plot of the film Tristan & Isolde I feel compelled to point out that this film as reviewed by your site is a work of fiction. Also this film is set in approx 800 CE and the Irish civil war took place in the 1920s. This if true would still be somewhat akin to an outpouring of violence on the part of Aboriginal communities against migrant Australians in approximately 800 years time. Surely the lapse of time would be seen to somewhat dispel the legitimacy of any acts of revenge. I fail to understand the link made in this review and am appalled at the lack of judgement on the part of the site for not monitoring such a blatant falsehood and a crass generalisation made with no reference to any text other that the aforementioned work of fiction. I would recommend that this line be removed from the site immediately and would like to be contact with a response from your department regarding this matter. I would recommend that your reviewer read the text listed below. It is one of the seminal texts for third level historical studies of Ireland. For earlier years they can refer to works of the same author and publishing house. Might I add that the write Roy Foster is a lecturer in England and therefore might be viewed with a somewhat kinder eye by your clearly misguided member of staff. - Helen Keegan

Threat analysis update

Tristan and Isolde is based on myth. The wind that shakes the barley is based on fact. Although blood feuds can often assume mythic proportions and their origins can often be "lost in the mists of time", the comparison between the two movies is to highlight the brutality and tit-for-tat violence of "The Troubles" and the difficulty in uncovering the starting point of the cycle of violence (ie the difficulty in assigning "blame").

Security censorship classification

M (Moderate violence, moderate coarse language)

Surveillance time

122 minutes (2:02 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 21 September 2006
Disc: 4 August 2010

Cinema surveillance images

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