Bloody Sunday Review (and Treasure Island Talk)

Bloody Sunday ReviewWait a minute, didn’t this movie come out years ago? Yes, it came out in 2002, I try to stick to current films, but after watching Green Zone, and having been impressed with the latter Bourne movies, I decided to delve deeper into the Greengrass canon. The same director who was recently offered the chance to direct an adaptation of Treasure Island for Warner Brothers, with the help of Lionel Wigram who produced Sherlock Holmes. Apparently there are two competing versions of Treasure Island, in addition to competing versions of The Three Musketeers, in 3D. I could only reminisce with fellow commentators about Muppet Treasure Island and express my desire to see Billy Connolly reprise his role as Billy Bones. I digress. Paul Greengrass would have been an interesting director for this swashbuckling adventure, what with his cutting naratives and edgy camera work.

Indeed Bloody Sunday is the quintessential Greengrass picture; the film surrounds the events that took place on the 30th of January 1972, in Derry (or Londonderry), Northern Ireland during the Troubles. I should mention this right from the get go, I’m not a huge fan of shaky camera work, it can be a strong effect in some instances but I find in most cases that its overuse can be tiring for the audience. Having said that, Bloody Sunday uses the shaky camera work throughout, but it’s less noticeable because the whole movie feels very authentic. The film has no score and the actors don’t play to the camera at all; conversations are often brief, words get swallowed and others get lost in the ambient noise. The drama being played out and the actors themselves seem genuine. The effect is one a true fly on the wall experience, you feel as if you’re following people as they go about their business, as if you weren’t there at all. For the most part we follow Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt), a Stormont Member of Parliament, as he goes about organizing a civil rights march. It’s a hectic day, one of perhaps many as an MP, organizing a big rally, sorting things out for his constituents, breaking up fights – he rescues one local boozie from the cops and tells him to go sleep it off and join the march later.

The march: Cooper’s peaceful protest gets hijacked by the usual hooligans who break off and start trading rock for tear gas with the British Army. Paratroopers had been called in to get the troublemakers off the streets in an arrest operation, but end up massacring unarmed bystanders, even shooting those who were fleeing and others who were tending to the wounded. Here the rattling lense is supremely effective, and the sequences well organized, capturing the confusion and panic of the shootings. Bloody Sunday, as Green Zone, is a straightforward, scathing narrative and condemnation. It’s a compelling and powerful film, and definitely worth a look.

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