Some people were outraged when they learned that Bloody Sunday, the critically-praised drama about the 1972 massacre, wasn't eligible for an Oscar nomination because it had appeared on television before it screened on theaters. Despite that setback, I had to check this movie out and see what all the talk was about. I wasn't disappointed.
Bloody Sunday looks at the events of Sunday, January 30, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland, where British troops fired upon unarmed civilian demonstrators. Their actions eventually killed 13 people and injured many more, but none of the soldiers involved were ever prosecuted; in fact, they were commemorated for their handling of events.
Obviously, writer and director Paul Greengrass sees those British soldiers from another viewpoint, though he does an incredible job of taking a nearly neutral viewpoint on the matter. Bloody Sunday is a powerful film that draws its strengths from the fact that it does show both sides, although I probably would guess that some British people would have a slightly different angle to tell.
There isn't much to say other than that by the end of the movie, I was speechless. Bloody Sunday is sad, awe-inspiring and unbelievable; as a 20-year old college student in the United States, it is pretty shocking sometimes to realize that only ten years before my birth one of the most "civilized" countries could be involved in something so dastardly (and, of course, this event has been blamed for triggering decades of further violence between the British and the IRA).
The movie is filmed in documentary-style format, and while at times this worked well, I also found the transitions to be the most annoying and disappointing part of the film. Greengrass simply turns the screen black for a moment as he switches to other characters; it looks more like low-quality than grittiness.
Nevertheless, the storytelling abilities of this director outweight any of the small shortcomings of the movie.
Kudos also go to James Nesbitt, who plays civil rights activist Ivan Cooper. He is the one who planned and instigated the rally after the British established that his people were not allowed to march. His expressions and statements made in the film create a deep and believable character; I really believed that this actor was the man.
Bloody Sunday has some flaws, but the story it has to tell is so powerful that it shouldn't be missed.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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