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Directed by Ken Loach
Written by Paul Laverty
Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


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This film is set in Ireland in the 1920s, opening with the Black and Tans ruthlessly attempting to run a 'War on Terror' of their own. This follows on from (though only slightly mentioned) the failed Easter uprising of 1916 and Sinn Fein's winning of 80% of the seats in Ireland in the 1918 General Election. Understandably (from our point of view) they refused to go to Westminster and attempted to form their own parliament. Winston Churchill (as the minister responsible) recruited the Black and Tans from unemployed ex-soldiers in Britain. However, many of the Irish Nationalists had themselves fought in the Great War on behalf of the Empire and saw the refusal of independence as a betrayal of their own efforts against Gemany.

The film follows two brothers involved in the struggle, through armed actions against the British forces, to having to execute Irishmen, who passed information to the police, plus falling out over the necessities of imposing their own laws on wealthier supporters. Eventually, with the partition of the Irish Free State, the brothers end up on opposite sides in the civil war. Much of this is also covered in the film 'Michael Collins'.

It would have been interesting to see how Ken Loach might have continued his story into the Second World War, when Ireland, although outwardly neutral, was decidedly pro-German as this was viewed as a "My enemies enemy" situation. Though Ireland had supplied soldiers to Franco's cause in the Spanish Civil War - the blinkering of Catholicism.

The parallels between Ireland during this period and Iraq now are obvious. Let us hope we are not the only ones who can see it.


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