The Wind that Shakes the Barley bagged the Palm d’Or at Cannes, much to the surprise of the pundits who were betting on Almodóvar’s Volver or Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel to leave with the coveted prize. Almodóvar won the best screenplay prize, and Iñárritu nabbed the best director award, so they weren’t overlooked.
It’s great to see Ken Loach win after eight Palme d’Or nominations. Loach is an unashamedly political director, who (with his writing partner Paul Laverty) tackles subjects that are not sexy or easy to finance. Like most directors, not all of his work succeeds, but he has produced some outstanding works, such as My Name is Joe (1998).
Of course, it’s a great win for the Irish since the film examines the still-touchy subject of the war of independence and the civil war that followed. It was shot last year in Cork, with an all-Irish cast (featuring the lovely and talented Cillian Murphy), and let’s not forget that Laverty is half-Irish too. The BBC reports that the film is also intended as a critique of the situation in Iraq:
“Maybe if we tell the truth about the past, maybe we tell the truth about the present,” he said as he accepted the award.
Loach thanked the jury of “the most wonderful festival of cinema in the world”.
“Our film is a little, a very little step in the British confronting their imperialist history,” he said.
Unfortunately for me the film will be released on June 23. Art films often have a short shelf life, but I hope it will still be in cinemas when I return in August. I expect it will be popular in Ireland, at least. I’ve a feeling that the British might find it a difficult film since it examines rather unpleasant history about the behaviour of the occupying forces in Ireland (it will make for chilling viewing if it is anything like the stories my grandfather told me).
A restored and remastered version of the 1992 director’s cut will be released in September (and will only be available for 4 months). Next year, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, will get a limited theatrical release. It’s being sold as Ridley Scott’s “definitive new version”. This strikes me as a ridiculous level of tampering, but perhaps there is something new to be revealed. I am pleased at the prospect of seeing the film on the big screen, however.
Luckily, the ensuing extra-special multidisc deluxe DVD will contain the original version, Scott’s 1992 director’s cut, as well as the final “definitive” version.