Festival de Cannes Archive
By Joss Barratt
The Wind That Shakes the Barley by Ken Loach
Fergus CLEGG—Set Designer
Jonathan MORRIS—Film Editor
Ireland 1920: 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 abandons his burgeoning career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy, 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.
Extracts of DialoguesPAT: 'We've got to show these bastards... drive them out.'
DAMIEN: 'How many British soldiers in this country?'
TIM: 'Too many...'
TEDDY: 'About eight thousand'
TEDDY: 'Over a thousand...'
DAMIEN: 'And machine gun corps, cavalry, artillery units, police...'
TEDDY: 'And many more besides. What's your point?'
DAMIEN: 'So what are you going to do? Take on the British Empire with a hurley... stun the bastards one by one?!'
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Palme d'Or: The Wind That Shakes the Barley by Ken Loach—28/05/2006
Emmanuelle Béart handed the the Palme d'Or to The Wind That Shakes the Barley by Ken Loach.
During the Award Ceremony, Ken Loach declared in French: "It's extraordinary, thank you very much! I've forgot all my French words now. It is a great honour for us to be here, because Cannes is the most wonderful cinema celebration in the world, it is the centre of cinema in the world, and the heart of cinema." Then, in English, he added: "We hope that our film represents a small step in the relationship which the British have with their imperialist past. If we dare to tell the truth about the past, perhaps we shall dare tell the truth about the present." Then, once more in French, he concluded: "Thank you to the Jury, thank you to Cannes, thank you to Thierry Frémaux and Gilles Jacob. It's a beautiful award. Thank you to my friends! We made this film together, this Prize isn't for me but for you all."
Added comments during the press conference following the ceremony:
"I feel stunned. We genuinely were not expecting this, but I'm really delighted for all the people who made the film... That this story has been recognized the way it has is extraordinary."
Competition: The Wind that Shakes the Barley by Ken Loach—18/05/2006
A frequent name on the Croisette with a mere dozen films having been presented, in competition (Hidden Agenda, Raining Stones, both of which received the Jury Prize), in the Un Certain Regard section (The Gamekeeper) or other sidebar sections (Kes, Black Jack), Ken Loach is back once more with The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a drama featuring internationally-acclaimed Irish actor, Cillian Murphy. The British film director takes a historical path once again (Land and Freedom was about the Spanish Civil War), and this time looks into the Irish War of Independence, which he already evoked in the political thriller Hidden Agenda. Ken Loach is a noted observer of real situations and this film takes us back to the heart of the Irish Revolution which started in 1916 and escalated into a civil war by 1920. With the war as its context, the film focuses on two brothers, Damian (Cillian Murphy), who gives up a career as a doctor for the love of his country, and Teddy (Pádraic Delaney), who plunges wholeheartedly into the fight for liberty against the British occupiers. Their combat will take a heavy toll on their own relationship.
"I wouldn't call this an anti-British film," said Ken Loach. "I'd encourage people to see their loyalties horizontally across national boundaries, so that this isn't a film about the Brits bashing the Irish. People have much more in common with people in the same social position in other countries than they do with, say, those at the top of their own society. You can argue that we have a responsibility to attack the mistakes and brutalities of our leaders, past and present. Far from being unpatriotic, it is a duty we cannot ignore."
Press conference: The Wind That Shakes the Barley—18/05/2006
The press conference for the Official Selection The Wind that Shakes the Barley from British film director Ken Loach and his long-time screenwriter Paul Laverty was also represented by producer Rebecca O'Brien, actors Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, and Orla Fitzgerald who fielded questions from the international press. A few highlights follow.On their personal family memories:
Cillian Murphy: "Certainly in Cork where the film is set and where I am from, it runs very, very deep - the politics and the divisions - and everybody has stories of family members caught up to greater or lesser degrees in the struggle. Some of it is bitter; some people don't talk about it, but, yeah, it's very serious."
Liam Cunningham: "This particular period in Ireland's history was quite... it's not seen as pretty, because as in the movie, it is brother against brother and it's political ideals against political expediency. And I think this is a wonderful opportunity to say what the genuine happenings were at that time."
Orla Fitzgerald: "It is very much talked about and discussed and those wounds are still very fresh."
Pádraic Delaney: "I come from a farming background in western Ireland and I can still go home nowadays and walk through some of my father's fields and see the unmarked graves of people who were shot by the police and left to die in ditches and you see the ruins of houses where people had to evacuate because they were run off the land through fear or intimidation. The ghosts are still in Ireland and still do haunt. And sometimes people talk about it and sometimes they don't because it's too painful, it runs too deep."
Ken Loach on if the moment was opportune for the film: "I think that a story on the struggle for independence is a story that reoccurs and reoccurs. It is always a good time to tell that story. There are always armies of occupation somewhere in the world being resisted by the people they are occupying. I don't need to tell anyone here where the British now, unfortunately, forcefully and illegally have an army of occupation. It's also a story about extraordinary comradeship and heroism and a tragic conflict within that story. It seemed to us a story that in the end we could not avoid."
Paul Laverty on the British Empire: "I think there is something fascinating on how empires rewrote history. This Saturday for instance will be 500th anniversary of Columbus Day... He was obviously respected as a great seaman and discoverer, a man of terrific ambition, but what we forget is he actually kicked the Indians out, he sent dogs on them and mutilated people. I think if we actually learnt a more full, objective idea of our own British history, what happened in India, and what happened in Kenya up until the late 50s, and that underneath that was this idea of a 'civilising mission' on the part of our Empire, I don't think the British people would be prepared to accept the lies again."
On violence and idealism as an issue:
Ken Loach: "If you pursue the ideas you have and the ideas of justice, independence and liberty and people resist you, then of course, that leads to violence and that's the problem. It's the resistance to those ideas that leads to violence. What marks the violence they're caught in, marks the people in the film. Damian is a changed man after that and he carries it with him to the end and likewise Teddy is scared forever. In the end I don't think they can be reconciled. Sadly, in order to get to a position of justice, you have to go through these violent exchanges." Paul Laverty: "We were very, very keen to not romanticised (sic) the violence and I think it is very easily done, especially in film."
Cillian Murphy on how important it was for him to tell this story: "It means a lot to me. The way that Ken works, the actors are not privy to the finished script so you kind of come on board on faith as any actor would when it is Ken Loach. This history had touched my family in the past, many years ago. I thought if anyone could make an interesting and worthwhile film about it, it would be Ken."
Paul Laverty on women in the film: "Women were absolutely vital. It was actually a war, a guerrilla war that was supported by the local population and women were absolutely key and essential to that and it needs to be written out in Republican history.”
Paul Laverty on the distribution of the film: "My suggestion for a wonderful distribution in the States would be to drop a little note to George Bush and tell him you've just seen a remarkable film on the Republicans."