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The Irish blogosphere was all buzz this morning with the news that an Irish film had one the about the presentation of the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival to an film about the Irish war of independence. Meanwhile a storm is brewing in the British tabloids. The film, The Wind That Shook The Barley, which was partly funded by National Lottery money, shows British soldiers as indiscriminately violent - a depiction that the film's director Ken Loach claims is accurate, asserting that "Their brutality is legendary - no one would question that."
It was described by Harry MacAdam in the Sun (not available online) as the "most pro-IRA film ever... designed to drag the reputation of our nation through the mud". Ruth Dudley Edwards, writing in the Daily Mail, notes "the portrayal of the British as sadists and the Irish as romantic, idealistic resistance fighters."
It's not hard to see where they're coming from either. Loach, obviously an unbiased source, claims that the Irish rebels could be compared to French Resistance or the Partisans in Italy. The film was made with the intention of creating a parallel between the events of the rebellion in Ireland with the current instability in Iraq.
To be quite honest, I've no idea whether the portrayal is anything like accurate or not. What I do have is the suspicion that the director, like so many others, is unquestioningly following the comfortable narrative that Irish republicans have sold themselves for the guts of a century. There are any number of examples showing that people have no qualms in exaggerating or 'bending' the truth for this particular cause. Of course I won't know this until I watch the film, which I would probably like to do at some stage (and probably do some research too), but let's face facts: he wouldn't be the first to turn a supposed historical drama into promotional material for paramilitaries.