Irish Film Studies: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

The Wind that Shakes the Barley was an interesting one for me to see, as it is the first Ken Loach’s film I was watching. His name was one of the rare Irish movie director names that rang a bell for me. Obviously, he is pretty important in the history of Irish cinema. I was interested to see what kind of approach he used in his film, what was his “trademark”. In The Wind that Shakes the Barley, I could feel a certain seek for realism. But this realism is presented to us with certain poetry and is not as crude as the one in Steve McQueen’s Hunger. A scene that particularly stroked me is the one at the end where the main character is executed. We feel his distress and that he anticipate the moment with an obvious aversion. This scene somehow made me think of the (unfair) execution scene in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. One of the three soldiers to be executed can’t stop crying and his sobs are only stopped by his execution. We feel his distress as much as we feel Damien’s one in The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

 The film also remains relevant as in consist an interesting piece of Irish history. Indeed, two major events of Irish history are depicted in this one: the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.

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The spirit of terror that is contained in every kind of wars can also be seen at its most horrific at the beginning when a man is shot by the British opponent for answering in Irish to his questions instead of English. We understand his strong devotion to stand for its own ideologies. He prefers, in a way, to face death, instead of submitting to ideologies and a culture that is not his.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is presented to us in a way to make us understand that the spirit of opposition was strong during those wars. However, all this is presented to us in the beautiful green Irish landscapes, which somehow makes the drama less difficult to watch than Hunger, for example.

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Words: 357

Images sources:

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” Film Streams, n.d, http://www.filmstreams.org/film/the-wind-that-shakes-the-barley/.

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” The cinematic Intelligence Agency, n.d, http://thecia.com.au/reviews/w/wind-that-shakes-the-barley/

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The Wonderful World of Cinema’s Cast (and Crew) Photos Competition: The Big Final!

cast and crew final

We’re already at the final round of The Cast Photos Competition! Among 50 photos that were initially chosen, only three of them are left! But, which one of them will be elected “Favourite Cast Photo”? Well, it’s your vote that will decide that.

If you want to know more about this competition, please click here.

As always, you have three days to vote. So, the last round will take an end on April 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm and so, the big winner will be reveal!

Remember, you have to vote for your favourite PHOTO, not your favourite film.

Lets do this now!

Final Match: It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World vs. The Philadelphia Story vs. On the Town

(You can click on each picture to enlarge them)

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Thanks for voting! 😀

Irish Film Studies: Hush-a-Bye Baby

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This was my journal entry for Hush-a-Bye Baby (week 6).

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Week 6’s subject was a more “difficult” one, but it allowed us to understand a darker side of Ireland because no place is perfect. As we saw in class, growing as a woman in Ireland once didn’t seem to be a part of pleasure, for the reason that Church and State were closely working together. As a result, sexuality has long been a taboo subject and something that was only considered to be “a tool to have children”, but don’t you dare having a child out of wedlock! As a result, homosexuality was considered a crime until the late 20th century and contraceptives were illegal until the 80s-90s. Still today, abortion isn’t allowed. We’ve seen in class that, as a result of this strong connection between Church and State, sad stories of young teenage mothers having to give birth to illegitimate children in recluse places weren’t uncommon.

Hush-a-Bye Baby seeks to show us this difficult reality. The film was released in 1990 when such questions and problems concerning female sexuality were still at a culminating point. A woman, Margo Harkin, directed the film, and its main stars are feminine ones (including singer Sinéad O’Connor, whose song can be heard in the ending credits). As a result, we feel that this movie was really made to denounce something and tell us “enough is enough”. It’s a film made by a woman and for women, but, hopefully, men will get something out of it as well.

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What I found mainly interesting about Hush-a-Bye Baby is the fact that it is narratively presented to us as a general downfall. At the beginning of the film, the teenage girls just “want to have fun”, like it says so in Cyndi Lauper’s song that is heard in the film. They dance, meet boys, have fun, etc. They live the typical normal life teenage girls must live. One of them, Sinéad, seems closer to religion. For example, in an interesting scene, she prays dressed as the Virgin Mary, until her friends arrive. The beginning of the film also contains a certain subtle humour that is appreciated, such as this scene where the girl students are sexually provoking their priest teacher. This creates a balance with the rest of the film that is much more dramatic and where real troubles surface.

The film touches the themes of out of wedlock wedding and abortion. One of the girls is pregnant, but her boyfriend is in jail and she can’t reach him because she writes in Irish and Irish letters aren’t allowed. We feel her distress because we know she can’t keep that for her and, as out of wedlock babies are not well seen, it’s a case of constant stress. The film that started in joy with “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” ends with a painful scream, reflecting what the film mainly tries to denounce: the difficulty of growing in Ireland as a teenage girl. On a side note, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” can be credited as a feminist song, so its use in the film is quite relevant.

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Words: 514

Images sources:

“Hush-a-Bye Baby.” Besom Productions, n.d, http://www.besomproductions.co.uk/hush.html.

“Various Artists: Hush-a-Bye Baby.” Thank You for Hearing Me, n.d, http://www.thankyouforhearingme.com/releases/hush_a_bye_baby.html.

Irish Film Studies: Poitín

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This was my journal entry on Poitín (week 5).

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I’m a bit mitigated on Poitín. This certainly was a film out of the common and, for our class; this was the first one I felt was very and only Irish. This 1978’s film was the first one to be shot strictly in Irish. It also was directed by Irish film director Bob Quinn. This creates an opposition with, for example, The Quiet Man, which is an American film directed by an American, but that takes place in Ireland. Poitín is a reference to a traditional Irish alcoholic beverage.

Despite showing us typical Irish landscapes like The Quiet Man does, Poitín is faithful to the 70s and the grow of screen violence during this decade (and the ones to follow). We, somehow, feel closer to the people or Ireland, and these ones seem to be presented to us as they are, without any embellishment. Of course, this is just a film, but it allows us to make a distinction between nostalgic movies like The Quiet Man and those who seem closer to reality like Poitín.

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By the way the characters are dressed, without any extravagances, and the types of landscapes we see, I could also notice a certain connection with Man of Aran. I feel as Poitín is a very Irish film, meaning that it might not be cited as a universal one (like many Hollywood movies are) and, therefore, the story might not necessarily reach everybody. However, it remains an interesting cultural object of Ireland for those who are curious and those who are precisely studying Irish cinema.

On a side note, where I had more difficulty with the film is the fact that it was in Irish and, yes, we had subtitles, but, stupidly enough, the heads of people in front of me were sometimes hiding those subtitles and, because of that, I couldn’t catch everything properly and, as a result, I lost a certain interest in the film at a certain point. But I feel it’s this kind of film that deserves to be seen more than once to be understood better.

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Words: 345

Images sources:

” Irish Film: Poitín.” The Star and Shadow Cinema, Mar. 16, 2014, https://www.starandshadow.org.uk/on/film/1385.

” Poitin (Film).” Alchetron, n.d, https://alchetron.com/Poitin-(film)-107720-W.

Results for the 4th Round of The Wonderful World of Cinema’s Cast (and Crew) Photos Competition

Our amusing competition is almost over! Only one match/round left! :O Meanwhile, here are the results for the 4th round of the competition.

  • It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World defeats The Wizard of Oz 10/9
  • On the Town defeats The Sound of Music 10/9
  • The Philadelphia Story defeats Little Women 15/2

As you can see, two of these matches were quite tight!

The final match will be posted later today! Thanks to all those who voted! 🙂