Written and directed by Paul Greengrass, Bloody Sunday is the story about the 1972 shootings in Derry, North Ireland in which 26 protesters died in the hands of the British Army. Inspired by Don Mullan’s 1997 book Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, the film explores the event that happened from the perspective of those who saw it all. Starring James Nesbitt, Simon Mann, and Tim Pigott-Smith. Bloody Sunday is a chilling yet harrowing film from Paul Greengrass.
It’s January 30, 1972 as local politician Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt) is organizing a peaceful protest march across the town of Derry. Meanwhile, Major General Ford (Tim Pigott-Smith) and Colonel Wilford (Simon Mann) are organizing a group of troops to counter the protest anything toes wrong. With a young named Gerry Donaghy (Declan Duddy) joins the protest as Cooper is trying to get ready to lead the protest with Eamonn McCann (Gerard Crossan) and Bernadette Devlin (Mary Moulds). Confusion arises during the march when some protesters sees British snipers up on the walls as violence starts to ensue between protesters and British troops leading to the incident known as Bloody Sunday.
Since the film is a dramatic interpretation of what happened in on that horrible day in the span of 24 hours. Writer/director Paul Greengrass creates a film that revels into what happened and show from two different sides as they get ready for this day. On the one corner, you have this peaceful protester who is hoping to make a difference on this day despite the anger of other protesters over some of the things that has happened. On the other corner is the British army that is organizing a way to stop the protests as soldiers want revenge for those they’ve lost. Tension is there as things start off a bit smoothly but paranoia ensues leading the unfortunate incident that occurred.
While the script is a very loose one with a simple structure where the third act is its aftermath in which soldiers have to report to their superiors while protest leaders have to comfort families and such. It is still an engrossing one for the way it allows to go back and forth to emphasize on its differing perspectives without really taking sides.
The lack of a conventional script allows Greengrass to create a film where it’s all about being in the center of everything that is happening. Presented in a cinema verite style with lots of shaky hand-held cameras where it intensifies for the big violent scene. Since the film is about this horrible moment in the history of the world, Greengrass chooses to let things build up to that violent moment while using unconventional cutting styles to create something that feels abrupt and rhythmic so he can gain some perspective of what is going on. The overall work Greengrass creates is truly mesmerizing but also confrontational for the way he recreates the infamous Bloody Sunday incident.
The extraordinary work of cinematographer Ivan Strasberg is definitely one of the film‘s technical highlights in terms of its verite style where there‘s a bit of grain to the look for many of the daytime scenes while utilizing natural lights that is available to maintain a sense of realism. Editor Clare Douglas does a brilliant job with the film‘s stylized editing with a constant use of jump-cuts and fade-out transitions to create a jerky rhythm to play up the chaos and tension of what goes on in the film. Production designer John Paul Kelly and art director Padraig O’Neill do excellent work on the set pieces as a lot of the locations are in Dublin while using the actual streets in Derry to create the sense of ruin that occurred at the time.
Costume designer Dinah Collin does nice work with the costumes from the uniforms the British army wear to the 1970s street clothing the protesters wear. Sound editor Danny Longhurst does a fantastic job with the sound to capture the intimacy in small moments along with the chaos that surrounds during the battle between protesters and the British army. The film’s sole piece of music in the film is in the final credits to a live version of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday.
The casting by John and Ros Hubbard is superb for the ensemble that is created as its cast featured mostly non-actors. Among the cast in the film includes Gerard McSorley as police Chief Supt. Lagan, Kathy Keira Clarke as Ivan’s girlfriend Frances, Edel Frazer as Gerry’s girlfriend, Declan Duddy as the young protester Gerry, Mary Moulds as Bernadette Devlin, Gerard Crossan as Eamonn McCann, Tim Pigott-Smith as Major General Ford, and Simon Mann as Colonel Wilford. Finally, there’s James Nesbitt in a terrifying performance as Ivan Cooper as a man that is trying to lead a peaceful protest only to find himself in the middle of a violent battle that he couldn’t comprehend as it’s definitely one of Nesbitt’s best roles.
Bloody Sunday is an outstanding yet gripping film from Paul Greengrass for its harrowing recreation of the Sunday Bloody Sunday massacre of January of 1972. The film is definitely one of the best pieces about the Irish-British tension without taking sides as Greengrass shows a film where it’s about the human struggle as he goes right into the middle of what is happening. It’s not an easy film to watch in terms of its presentation and its emphasis on realism but it doesn’t try to hammer any ideas or give answers to questions that really can’t be asked. In the end, Bloody Sunday is a marvelous film from Paul Greengrass.
Paul Greengrass Films: (Resurrected) - (The Theory of Flight) - (The Bourne Supremacy) - United 93 - (The Bourne Ultimatum) - (Green Zone) - Captain Phillips
© thevoid99 2012