For years I sang along with Bono's piercing lyrics to "Sunday Bloody
Sunday," and although I knew he was singing about the "troubles in
Northern Ireland", I wasn't familiar with the entire, gut-wrenching
story. Thankfully, Irish filmmaker Paul Greengrass' latest offering,
Bloody Sunday, provides a blow-by-blow account of the horrors that
occurred in Derry, Northern Ireland, on that Sunday, January 30, 1972.
The film which seamlessly unfolds in what seems like real time, is an
ultra-realistic account of a peaceful demonstration by the Northern
Ireland Civil Rights association that turned fatally awry when British
Paratroopers -- called in by Ireland's Unionist Government and the
British Government to quell the march -- opened fire on unarmed
The purpose of the march was to protest against internment
without trial. This had been implemented the previous summer by the
Unionist Government who feared Protestant backlash against a rising tide
of Catholic unrest. By nightfall, 27 marchers had been shot and 13 lay
dead. There was not a single casualty among the British troops.
More than just a docu-drama, the film plays as if Greengrass' camera
was there on that fateful day. With battle sequences that rival those
in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan the viewer feels the horror along
with the marchers.
The film's central character, Ivan Cooper, is played by James Nesbitt.
Cooper is a Protestant in the Catholic camp who shares Martin Luther
King Jr.'s vision of peaceful change. He sums up the day's events by calling
the massacre the end to the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland
and the greatest victory for the IRA because it was the impetus for
thousands of young men taking up arms and joining the rebel group.
In light of the ongoing Arab-Israel conflict and the situation in
Chechnya, the film's basic themes remain as relevant today as ever.
Bloody Sunday is currently rolling out in theaters nation wide -- click
here to find a theater near you.