Monday, August 14, 2006

Forgiveness is a miraculous thing

Originally uploaded by Cinelogs.
The weather has been awful in Amsterdam for the last week. On some days it rains from the morning until the evening. And when I say rain, I do not mean a few drops here and there. I mean like a shower with the massage option on full volume.

Saturday was one of those days. We were sitting in a cafe on Haarlemmerdijk, sipping our lattes, with a group of friends. As the weather did not seem to improve, we decided to spend the afternoon in the cinema. We knew before hand that Ken Loach's Cannes-winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley would be no feelgood clip but hey, it was a rainy day any way.

After five minutes into the film I pushed my M&Ms into my pocket. It felt so incredibly inappropriate to eat in this film. I even felt bad for drinking.

Loach tells a story of two brothers who join the IRA in the 1920s to fight for the independence of Ireland. His calm and realistic approach is quite extraordinary. The Wind That Shakes The Barley is not a film about heroes fighting against the baddies from England. Of course the English soldiers torture and humiliate the Irish but not in the film - nor in my mind - does it justify the reactionary killings. Loach shows people committing horrible crimes out of conviction and confusion.

I started thinking of my grandparents when seeing what war does to good young men. And coming from a country that went through civil war during the same era I found myself thinking how people forgive and go on living. How do you live next to someone who raped your sister or killed your son? How do you build peace together?

I cried through the film. When leaving the cinema the rain had stopped. Rather than hating the world I felt exhausted. The Wind That Shakes The Barley was an experience I encounter very seldom. When art touches me also physically, I feel that I have come across something done by a genius.

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