Ken Loach

Ken Loach
Alexander Nikolayevich - " Cafe in G"urzuf" - 1956

Saturday, December 31, 2016

VEIW FROM THE GROUND – 5



Old-age Jazz music and Yeat’s romantic poetry are not enough! 


Ken Loach has done a sequel to his acclaimed, well-received movie “The Wind that Shakes the

Barley”. As we know, no sequel can come up to the lofty height of the original, but Ken Loach is at a

vantage positon. He is not spreading out a story, he’s just recording history. As a movie-maker he

can interpret history on his own. The Barley was based on The Irish civil war of 1919-22 which was,

in the real case, turned out to be sell-out to the British and the Church.  “The Masters and the

pastors” held the reigns ever after. However, you can’t extinguish the ‘simmer of discontent’ once

and for all. James Gralton was a fiery activist during the Irish ‘War of Independence’ and he felt

cheated when the treaty was signed between the British royalty and the IRA with the active

connivance of the Church. Gralton couldn’t take it lying down and he made up his mind for a self-

imposed-exile.  He landed up in New York City. The condition of common people was not any day

better on the other side of the Atlantic either. Gralton pulled on for ten years before wrapping up.

The great Depression of the thirties was already showing up its ugly hood and James Gralton

renamed as Jimmy Gralton in the film, packed his meagre trunk-box with a few Jazz records that he

collected from Harlem and a gramophone. The movie begins with Jimmy’s home coming to his


County Leitrim where his mother runs the family farm.  She is a cut above the rest, a self-starter, go

getter and a never-ending source of courage. She ran a library and studied the books on her own

and educated children in the neighborhood.
Sergeiy Vasilyevich - The Partisan's Mother -1943

As we know, the movie is based on the life and times of a real-life activist James Gralton, an

Irishman who held double citizenship but was deported to the United States. The sequence of

events is correct. This is a period film after all. Except for an imaginary love affair James had with an

angelic girl named Oonagh. Alas! Jimmy and Oonagh  couldn’t take it to the finishing point though

our hero had all USPs (sorry for the wrong usage) for winning female hearts. Ken Loach is lucky 

because all remarks about original Gralton  have been expunged from Government records . 

Now, the Director's Licence is at work! The script-writer has got wings!


Jimmy (James originally) had started a common meeting place for the peasants, Pearse-Connolly 


Hall (named after his favorite Union leader) and educated the plain folk with dance, music, poetry and even boxing.

Naturally, the activities at the Hall leads to eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation between Jimmy and

Fr.Sheridan. The Father is clever enough to foresee the future. The youth will get attracted to “Jazzy

music ….pelvic thrusts” and  they will be given igniting reading material. Naturally they’ll start

questioning power-centres for the injustice perpetuated. “The Losangelisation of our people should

not be tolerated”, Father declares. He does the Senator McCarthy Act to eliminate the Red

influence. At the same time, he understands Communism more than anyone else. In the privacy of

his study, he admits to his junior that the cardinal principle of the ideology, i.e., “From each

according to his ability and to each according to his need” is wonderfully similar to the New

Testament’s  maxim “Love Thy Neighbor”. He goes on to add that Communism is quasi religious.

Secretly he admires Jimmy for his selflessness and courage. The father is rather reluctant in 

acknowledging it. He is very secretive about his inner self!  I don’t know why he doesn’t turn into a

liberation theologist, that’s the logical conclusion. Instead he is trying the McCarthian techniques

one after other. 

First he isolates the people who visit Jimmy’s Hall, reads out their names in parish meetings and

then arranges for a social boycott. Since the strategy nosedives, he introduces another one in which

the Police acts as the watchdog for the Father.  The uniformed men enter the Hall at any time they

like, showing-off the guns in hand. Goons hired by the local land-owners set fire to the dwellings of

Estate workers in the dead of the night. Needless to say, they are all natural sympathizers of Jimmy.
Kazimir Malevich - The Workers
Meanwhile, Jimmy tries his level-best to bring the defiant Father to his fold. He keeps some Jazz

records at the doorsteps and the father is moved by the anguish in the female singer’s voice. The 

first time Fr. Sheridan actually listened to someone else!

However, Jimmy continues with his efforts. On an advice of Oonagh , he invites the Father to be a

member of board of Trustees (of Pearse-Connolly Hall). Father accepts it on one condition – the

deed of the land & building should change hands. That’s the limit! Jimmy erupts,

Father, you’re having more hate in your heart than Love.

Now Sheridan is fully convinced that Jimmy cannot be won over by any conceivable way. The end

game is in sight. Usually it’s the physical elimination of the person(s). Luckily Fr.Sheridan chooses

the lesser evil. He arranges to deport Jimmy for holding two passports. Jimmy  is arrested by the

Police at the second attempt. He manages to give the slip at the first time with the help of his mother.

He is deported to the US without a trial.

Marc Chagall - Scene de Cirque


The movie is over. After watching the film, you’re in a fix. You don’t know whether to like the film or

not! Anyway, Ken Loach grows on you in the meantime. You are definitely moved by the film-maker's sincerity.

However, he harbors romantic ideas about Communism. He is a classical communist, rather. Such a

person just refuses to acknowledge change. Though the cardinal principles of Communism just

cannot change, it’s applicability does. Communism is an internally dynamic philosophy. The rot is

definite to set in and the practitioner should be able to arrest it. Like Dharma in many ways. The

core of Dharma is the spiritual element. Practice of Selflessness and the cultivation of Love. If one

has an inkling for Dharma, one can arrive at the modes for the rescue operation.

Both Communism and Spirituality are essentially the same.

Ken Loach must throw his romantic ideas to the winds!



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