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Documentary-style drama showing the events that led up to the tragic incident on January 30, 1972 in the Northern Ireland town of Derry when a protest march led by civil rights activist Ivan Cooper was fired upon by British troops, killing 13 protesters and wounding 14 more. Written by
I have seen "Bloody Sunday" twice now - once on the big screen and once on DVD - and read Don Mullen's book, "Eyewitness Bloody Sunday." This movie is a very realistic depiction of the defining moment of the "troubles" in Northern Ireland. The hand-held cameras and grainy film style make it feel more like a documentary than a movie, which of course is the intent. As another reviewer has mentioned, the acting is very natural throughout. It does take some time to get started, but once the the shooting starts it hits the viewer like a sledgehammer. Very powerful.
The film jumps so frequently from scene to scene that at times it is distracting, though I was much less annoyed by this the second time around. And, having seen it once with and once without subtitles, I must say that although the subtitles (optional on the DVD) are intrusive they are quite welcome. I love the Irish accent but at times it can be difficult for me to decipher,and much of the dialogue in the movie is muted. It was good to know what was being said.
As for the objectivity, of course the movie is slanted - so was the situation. But it is not unreasonably slanted. The British are not shown as one-dimensional demons - in particular, Nicholas Farrell does a great job of conveying Brigadier Mclellan's ambiguity and even disapproval of the course taken against his wishes by the supposed "Observer," Maj. Gen. Ford (who, if the movie has a villain, is the prime candidate.) At one point early on several Paras are discussing the day's prospects, and reveal how tired they are of being harassed, shot at and otherwise abused by the native population. This makes the day's events more understandable. This does not EXCUSE the cold-blooded gunning down of 27 people - there is no excuse for that - but at least one can see a contributing factor. And protesters are shown, once or twice, firing back. (The key here is firing BACK - evidence indicates that no marchers fired until the first two protesters were wounded. And those scattered few that attempted return fire were quickly dissuaded by their countrymen. Later in the day the IRA did go into action, but not until after the bloodletting in Bogside was over with.) Ivan Cooper's (James Nesbitt) words at the close of the film were shown to be all too true in the years since the actual incident. The IRA was on unsteady legs at the time, but has never lacked support since January 30, 1972.
The film is a powerful object lesson concerning the misuse of force, and one that governments everywhere - including my own country, the United States - should take to heart. It has a few flaws, but I think deserves the awards it has received. 8/10 points.
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