“This Sunday became known as Bloody Sunday and bloody it was. It was     quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the Army ran amok that day and shot without thinking what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer, unadulterated murder. It was murder” (British Major Hubert O’Neill, Army coroner).

With the historical pretense of Bloody Sunday, the movie, by the same name and directed by Paul Greengrass, gives an accurate portrayal of the events that occurred on Sunday, January 3, 1972.  The movie gives credence to the events that day by adding “narrative strategies and visual devices germane to the docudrama” (Blaney). It combines real time action with a historical screenplay so the chronology and dialogue are accurate and succinct.  The actors portray real characters and show the importance of their roles along with the impact of their story.  “Bloody Sunday mobilizes iconic imagery in a dramatic narrative populated by ‘proximate characters,’ inviting informed viewers to revisit, and uninformed viewers to witness, scenes from the past” (Blaney).  Even though the docudrama may overdramatize some of the plot (social realism) such as Gerry Donaghy’s romance with a Protestant girl and Ivan Cooper’s romance with a  Catholic girl, it adds to the fact that these people were real and innocent.  They were not just a name on a death list or a Martin Luther King Jr. wannabe, respectively.  However, it would have portrayed a more well-rounded perspective if the film showed more about the role the IRA played.  Once the Paras opened fire on the civilians the IRA rolled out the guns, however, it did not discuss the action or inaction of the IRA up until that point.  It is obvious that the IRA had an active role in the rebellion but the docudrama left out this aspect.  On the British side:

The casting of genuine soldiers further imbues the performance text with a             sense of authenticity.  The considerable advantages commanded by actual             soldiers, compared to professional actors, are evident in the intense             credibility of the scenes …” (Blaney).

The cinematography is edited to show “flickers of authenticity.”  This makes the movie appear almost as if it is being shown as slides on a projector.  It gives it the sense of being edited or stop-and-go footage from a video camera.  Also the color of the scenes is a grainy grey and dark green that give it the effect of live footage.  “The thrill of the Real is visible in the extent to which its cinematography imitates a televisual aesthetic in order to “authentically” reproduce the “Real” or historical event” (Blaney).  The film does well to highlight the violence and indiscretions that occurred that day; however, it also offers a very subjective view of the events.  It is obvious whom Greengrass favors and it doesn’t allow room for the audience to form an objective opinion about Bloody Sunday.

More than a quarter century after the horrid events that Sunday afternoon, British Prime Minister Tony Blair finally conceded to the pressure from the Irish Government and launched a re-investigation of Bloody Sunday, the Saville Inquiry.  This inquiry is ongoing and the report won’t be given to Parliament until mid-March 2010; however, whatever the decision is, it cannot erase the pain, suffering and civil rights violations that have plagued Northern Ireland for almost a century.  Derry Bishop Seamus Hegarty, praised the move for a fresh inquiry into the killings. “When the full truth is told it should begin the healing process,” Hegarty said. “It need not be divisive” (National Catholic Reporter).

After this fateful afternoon where 13 Irish Catholics were “murdered” by British Parachute Troopers (Paras) during a peaceful anti-violence march for Civil Rights, Lord Justice Widgery was appointed to be in charge of the investigation of what really happened that day.  This originally stifled the outrage of the community and grieving family members. However, Widgery “exonerated the soldiers, saying they had acted in self-defense after being attacked by gasoline bombs and sniper fire” (National Catholic Reporter).   The Irish media quickly dubbed the inquiry “the Widgery whitewash” and there was a whole new outbreak of outrage.

Linda Roddy, 39, was at her aunt’s home in 1972 when news came that her             brother, William Nash, 19, had been killed and her father, Alexander, had             been injured.  She said she welcomed a fresh inquiry, “but the truth is             Widgery shattered my trust in the government. … Widgery identified my             brother as a gunman, though he had no forensic evidence to back that             statement up. Our Willie was a joker, a prankster. He was decent and             hardworking. He wanted to be a             boxer like his older brother. He was not a             gunman” (National Catholic Reporter).

This is just one example of how that falsely reported afternoon affected a family.  Not only did Roddy and her family grieve for the loss of her brother but they also had to cope with the fact that in his hour of death William Nash was portrayed as a killer and gunman.

Irish band U2 said it best in their song “Bloody Sunday,”

The battle’s just begun,
There’s many lost but tell me who has won,
The trench is dug within our hearts,
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart.

No matter what the Saville Inquiry decides, the events that unfolded that fateful January afternoon will not be forgotten.  Whether they are emblazoned in a song, seen in a film or even discussed in a classroom; the effects that Bloody Sunday had on the Northern Ireland conflict have not ceased with the ceasefire of 1994.  Eventually, we shall overcome.
Sources

Blaney, Aileen. “Remembering historical trauma in Paul Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday.(Critical essay).” History and Memory: Studies in Representation of the Past. 2007. AccessMyLibrary. 17 Feb. 2010 <http://www.accessmylibrary.com>.

Bloody Sunday: Massacre in Northern Ireland.(Brief Article).” Publishers Weekly. Reed Business Information, Inc. (US). 1997. AccessMyLibrary. 17 Feb. 2010 <http://www.accessmylibrary.com>.

New evidence, inquiry for Bloody Sunday“. National Catholic Reporter. FindArticles.com. 17 Feb, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_n15_v34/ai_20324597/