Movie Review: Bloody Sunday (2002)

Starring: James Nesbitt, Nicholas Farrell and Tim Pigott-Smith

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

A dramatisation of the Irish Civil Rights Movement’s peaceful protest and subsequent tragic slaughter by the British army that left 13 dead and 14 wounded on January 30, 1972 in Derry.

As I’ve said before in previous movie reviews I do enjoy a movie a lot more when there’s a true story behind it and the story of Bloody Sunday is tragic and extremely powerful.

There are a lot of hostilities towards the British army who are deployed to reclaim law and order but the Irish Civil Rights Movement just want to peacefully protest and not cause any unnecessary conflict between the two sides. The British army is somewhat intimidatory in its tactics and this riles up some of the younger boys and men amongst the protest who begin to throw rocks at the barricades in place. The Paras, who during the course of the day were discussing how fed up they were of being abused and harassed by the locals, are the first to take aggressive action by firing shots into the crowd and wounding two people. This then causes pandemonium and is the catalyst to the rest of the days shocking events. 27 people were gunned down at the hands of the army (13 killed and 14 wounded) and there is no evidence of any protester firing upon the army until the army begins randomly shooting unarmed civilians.

With such a difficult historical event to turn into film I thought director Paul Greengrass, more known for his work on the Jason Bourne franchise, does a brilliant job at capturing the heart wrenching events of Bloody Sunday. He shows the brutality of power displayed by the British and the defiance of the Irish who refuse to be intimidated despite suffering so much loss. The acting for the most part was very good especially by James Nesbitt, who plays Member of Parliament Ivan Cooper. During the final few segments of the movie he’s brilliant at showing raw emotion especially while consoling the family of some of the dead. While the movie was rather slow to pick up pace once the first shots were fired and all hell broke lose it was a shockingly gritty movie.

There were a few things that I wasn’t too fond of and the main one was the way in which Bloody Sunday was filmed. With the use of hand-held cameras the movie felt more like a documentary, which was the intention but I’m just not the biggest fan of that style of filming. I mentioned that the acting for the most part was pretty decent, however some of the acting, particularly by some of the British soldiers early on in the movie was very very amateurish. At one point it almost seemed like a couple of the actors had no idea what their lines were and just stammered their way through the scene.

I’m not 100% sure whether this movie is factually accurate or not as it tends to portray a one sided account of the events that unfolded that day but it’s incredibly powerful in its message and a really good watch which with some slight adjustments could’ve been great.


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