The Wind that Shakes the Barley was a very moving film with an interesting take on history. Many films that are set during important historical times feature important political and historical figures, which in most is a great thing. Those movies take the viewer through a journey from the eyes of that figure or through the eyes of someone close to them. They give the figures a humanity that tends to be lost over time or when a piece of history is analyzed a great deal.
That perspective is great to watch however many times the average person is overlooked in great historical events. Now it would be nearly impossible to tell the story of every single soldier yet The Wind that Shakes the Barley takes a glimpse into the life of a few ordinary Irishmen during the revolution and civil war. Damien and Teddy O’Sullivan are two brothers from rural western Ireland not a place of much significance with respect to the revolution. Although the brothers are from a rural area of Ireland you can see how their involvement with the revolution shifts in response to the British around them.
It is clear to see that these brothers are important and leaders in their community and at the same time you are aware that they are nameless with respect to the big picture of the revolution. Damien and Teddy were extremely important to the fighting in their area leading a small militia group. Their militia group launched attacks on British soldiers in Ireland and was even involved in espionage. And that highlights the reality that so much of history is shaped by the efforts of the masses while only a few will have their names written in the history books. That very point is what makes The Wind that Shakes the Barley such a significant film, because it shows the viewer that history is written by more than just those who are remembered with statues and plaques.
Although the film does a great job of showing what it was like for Irish people during the revolution the film is a bit slanted. There is little or no sympathy shown for the British soldiers, many of whom had just finished fighting in the trenches of WWI. In addition there was a very slanted political view between the two sides of the civil war. Those in favor of the treaty with England were portrayed as right wing and anti-treaty followers were seen as left wing. Though it makes an interesting story the conflict was greyer rather than black and white. Overall The Wind that Shakes the Barley is a great historically relevant film and worth watching.
– Tracy Venella