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The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 23 March 2007 (USA)
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Against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fight a guerrilla war against British forces.



4,533 ( 847)
6 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary O'Riordan ...
Peggy (as Mary Riordan)
Laurence Barry ...
Damien Kearney ...
Frank Bourke ...
Myles Horgan ...
Martin Lucey ...
Shane Casey ...
John Crean ...
Máirtín de Cógáin ...
Sean (as Mairtin de Cogain)


In 1920, rural Ireland is the vicious battlefield of republican rebels against the British security forces and Irish Unionist population who oppose them, a recipe for mutual cruelty. Medical graduate Damien O'Donovan always gave priority to his socialist ideals and simply helping people in need. Just when he's leaving Ireland to work in a highly reputed London hospital, witnessing gross abuse of commoners changes his mind. he returns and joins the local IRA brigade, commanded by his brother Teddy, and adopts the merciless logic of civil war, while Teddy mellows by experiencing first-hand endless suffering. When IRA leaders negotiate an autonomous Free State under the British crown, Teddy defends the pragmatic best possible deal at this stage. Damien however joins the large seceding faction which holds nothing less than a socialist republic will do. The result is another civil war, bloodily opposing former Irish comrades in arms, even the brothers. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Winner of the PALME D'OR at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



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Release Date:

23 March 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El viento que acaricia el prado  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£390,720 (UK) (23 June 2006)


$1,829,142 (USA) (6 July 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The commercial interest expressed in the United Kingdom was initially much lower than in other European countries and only 30 prints of the film were planned for distribution in the UK, compared with 300 in France. However, after the Palme d'Or award the film appeared on 105 screens in the UK, more than three times larger than the UK release for any of Ken Loach's previous films. See more »


When Teddy delivers Damien's letter to Sinead, he puts his cap on, gets on his motorcycle, and puts his goggles on the handlebar. In a wide shot, the goggles are around his neck. See more »


Damien: It's easy to know what you are against, but quite another to know what you are for.
See more »


Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Episode dated 17 March 2007 (2007) See more »


Oró! Sé Do Bheatha 'Bhaile
Words by Padraic Pearse
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Great film
24 June 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a truly great film and well deserving of the Palm D'Or.

It has been said that it is pro IRA or IRA propaganda. I disagree. In fact I think the reverse is the case. It shows up both the brutality of war and the even greater brutality of civil war that sets nation against nation and brother against brother. The film provides an understanding of how Ireland became independent in 1920-1921. It is well documented (e.g. visit the BBC or CAIN websites) that the Black and Tans were a brutal and oppressive irregular force sent to put down the rebellion. The IRA reacted with similar brutality. The film records both with equally graphic scenes. But that is only the first half of the film. The second half deals with the civil war. That's even more tragic and brutal.

Who was on the right side or the wrong side? The film presents the arguments but I really don't think the film takes sides. More of the anti British and anti treaty argument is advanced. But this is understandable because it is historically accurate that West Cost was ferociously anti British and mainly anti treaty. That's why Michael Collins was destined to die there. And it is more important to understand why people/nations go to war or civil war rather than why they don't.

Understanding the reasons does not mean support for war. The film highlights the futility and awfulness of war. Misery destruction and death. Is there such a thing as a just war (apart from 2nd World war)? Aside from the historical debate, the story, filming and acting is magnificent. Much better than the Green Berets on the just war by USA in Vietnam! Blackhawk Down brilliantly covered Somalia from the external US perspective. This film brilliantly covers the 1920/21 wars from the Irish perspective. We need all perspectives.

Well worth seeing with an open mind. Then read the history if you want.

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