DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: BLOODY SUNDAY

Monday 5 February 2007


Bloody Sunday (2002) dir. Paul Greengrass
Starring: James Nesbitt


Before “United 93”, there was “Bloody Sunday,” a minute-by-minute dramatization of the 1972 Irish Civil Rights March which ended in a bloody massacre by the British troops. Most know the events of the day from the U2 song, but director Paul Greengrass creates the definitive filmed account.

Member of Parliament Ivan Cooper (played by James Nesbitt) has organized a march in the Northern Ireland town of Derry. As a backlash against the ways of the IRA Cooper chooses to demonstrate in the peace traditions of Martin Luther King. It’s a noble effort intended to draw attention to the unlawful internment of Irish nationals without trial. But the city is heavily occupied by British troops thinking the march is a form of IRA subversion. But Cooper is determined to make good. The film cuts back and forth between the protestors and the operations of the British military, and we slowly see the tensions rise throughout the day. Everyone’s guard is up and it’s a matter of time before the British’s aggression escalates the march from peacefulness to war.

The drama is riveting. Using his trademark handheld verite shooting style Greengrass seems to eavesdrop on the action and drama. The camera captures the characters like a war-correspondent news crew in the middle of a battle. We get to know many of the townspeople, but the film focuses on 4 main characters – 2 Irishmen and 2 British soldiers. These characters are played by family members of the actual people from that day, or real British troops – all of whom are non-actors, but play the parts with utmost authenticity. In the end 14 men and women are killed, and many more shot and wounded.

Though largely unseen during it’s brief release, “Bloody Sunday” did win the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, and allowed Greengrass to make the next 2 Bourne films as well as “United 93.” Please rediscover this little gem on DVD. Enjoy

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