Paul Greengrass's devastating Irish film (2001) captures the dread, horror, and confusion of January 30, 1972, when British soldiers fired on civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland, killing 13. Adapting Don Mullan's oral history of the tragedy, Greengrass sacrifices character and plot to a chilling impressionistic stylization. Cinematographer Ivan Strasburg uses handheld cameras that hover and swoop, producing a breathtaking immediacy. The director dispenses with transitions, punctuating terse, charged scenes of political organizers, soldiers at the army command center, and British officers by fading to black—a form of ellipsis that establishes a convincing political, cultural, and social framework for the events, the officers' class-conscious arrogance, the soldiers' sense of power, and the Irish activists' feelings of loss, anger, and political impotence. The searing conclusion left me numb and overwhelmed. With James Nesbitt.
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