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.


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.


Words: 357

Images sources:

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” Film Streams, n.d,

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” The cinematic Intelligence Agency, n.d,