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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 41.86%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.33%

4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Bloody Sunday
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by Slyder

"Falls short but nevertheless effective"
4 stars

Bloody Sunday is one of those films that scream at its audience that it wants to be an important film for you to see. Unfortunately, despite some really bright moments it falls a couple of steps off the mark.

The film is a straight-ahead depiction of the events that occurred in Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972. Parliament Member Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt) along with his colleagues at the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association organize a peaceful march in the streets of Londonderry, Northern Ireland to protest against the Stormont Parliament’s policy of holding Catholic suspects internment without trial and their ban on public protests. Cooper’s march conflicts not only with the government but also with the IRA since they aren’t interested in any peaceful resolutions. As the march begins to roll, a military blockade headed by General Robert Ford (Tim Pigott-Smith) and Brigadier Patrick Maclellan (Nicholas Farrell) begins to deploy near the intended destination of the march near the Guildhall Square in order to stop the rally and arrest as many protesters as possible. Expected riots between the younger hooligans and the soldiers happen, but what was not expected is that for some reason yet totally unknown the soldiers in the blockade opened fire at the protesters killing 13 people (mostly teenagers) and injuring 14 more, with one dying in the hospital due to severe gunshot injuries. An inquiry later reported that the soldiers fired when fired upon by gunmen which were present on the rally, but to this day that is yet to be proven completely.

Its evident that then indie director Paul Greengrass’s intentions are to depict the events the truest he can based on the accounts of the several eyewitnesses there. Thanks to a clever use of documentary-like cinematography, sound effects, and some interesting though sometimes overdone editing, the whole prelude and actual shootout and immediate aftermath make this film worth viewing at least once as you’re thrown into a huge mass of chaos and disorder into which you practically feel you’re there. The whole shootout and aftermath scenes mark the film’s most effective scenes and highest of strengths.

Unfortunately, signs of pretentiousness are obvious from the beginning since Greengrass struggles with the characters he wants to develop in order to keep the story moving for the first 30-45 minutes. James Nesbitt does the best he can with the inflated role of Ivan Cooper but he doesn’t shine until from 5 minutes to the actual shootout onwards. The same thing happens with Declan Duddy’s character of Gerry Donaghy, one of the many people killed in the incident. In fact, none of the characters from either side are given a three-dimensional portrait to make them interesting and more believable. Another factor that comes into view is the editing, which is used very well during and after the shootout, but the constant use of fade-out/fade-ins is excessive, especially during the first struggling 45 minutes and will no doubt end up annoying the audience. I pretty much had the urge several times to press the Fast-Forward button but didn’t since I waited for the film to react, and it does, but it’s too late by then.

In the end, no one can deny the noble pursuits that Greengrass and his crew were trying to achieve here. The Bloody Sunday incident remains one of the darkest days in British and Irish histories and it should never be forgotten but rather be investigated further, but the film’s shortcomings prevent it from qualifying as a true docu-drama. If I were Greengrass, I would’ve made a documentary combining news footage and interviews with live-action footage and it would’ve been a much stronger and more relevant film. Still, despite its flaws, it deserves a view at least once. 4-5

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/06/04 04:48:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/08/11 brian "You call that minimum force?" 5 stars
11/01/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
3/26/08 Ash Excellent movie. The violence wasn't overbearing. 5 stars
9/19/06 Mark Keogh Sadly, this film will never be shown on BBC1. That might 'offend' the British public 5 stars
3/06/04 RORY GREAT 5 stars
10/18/03 Phil M. Aficionado Gripping, authentic, insightful, touching. Marvelously produced and acted. Bravo!!!! 5 stars
7/13/03 mitch wow 5 stars
6/16/03 rory great 5 stars
4/18/03 jane a little violent. but a great movie anyway 5 stars
4/12/03 brad best war movie ever 5 stars
3/19/03 ta mere shit 1 stars
1/28/03 The Aussie Film Reviewer Wow. Educational and affecting. 5 stars
1/27/03 Siobhán Along way from 'Cold Feet' 5 stars
11/09/02 Irish John This movie was Bloody Sunday from the people who lived it, NOT the American Media 5 stars
10/30/02 RantiC great realistic war film 5 stars
10/29/02 Theresa Great movie. Truely sad. 5 stars
10/23/02 Gus Henderson A brilliantly made film, the fact that I was in it also helped!! 5 stars
7/23/02 John Hennessy I thought this film was the finest reconstruction of the Irish troubles ever made. 5 stars
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  04-Oct-2002 (R)
  DVD: 22-Apr-2003



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