Northern Ireland: A Place of Beauty and Conflict

When you think of Ireland most likely you will imagine a beautiful green landscape, Irish pubs, and a cheerful redheaded man dancing to their traditional bagpipe music. However, just to the north lies Northern Ireland, which is apart of a much larger region, known as the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom consists of; England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.  Northern Ireland is a country known for its political and religious conflict between the Irish Catholics and the loyalist Protestants.  A major event that focused attention on the conflict between the two groups is known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Bloody Sunday occurred on January 30th, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland, whereas a Northern Ireland civil rights association held a march ending in twenty-six unarmed civilians being shot by British soldiers.  Many people were killed in this event including thirteen males seven of which were teenagers.  This event revealed the civil unrest the United Kingdom was facing and educated many people about the conflict between the British and the people of Northern Ireland. In 2002, a film by the title Bloody Sunday, directed by Paul Greengrass, produced by Granada Television (IMDb) about the 1972 shooting in Derry was released. The focus of this essay is to analyze the position of the film, how the genre of “mockumentary” achieves a feeling of utter reality, and press coverage of the Northern Ireland conflict.

The film, Bloody Sunday is a great depiction of the tragedy that unfolded on January 30th, 1972, but is the film really fair? Does it convey the truth as the events unfolded on both sides of the conflict?  According to a review of the film by The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell who critiques the film states, “it would be a mistake to say it has the even-handedness of a down-the-middle docudrama, because “Sunday” is clearly on the side of the 15,000 Irish-Catholic demonstrators who turned out to make a nonviolent point about their grievances at what they saw as discrimination by the Protestant majority in the Ulster Government.” Mitchell makes the claim that the film sides with that of the Irish-Catholics.  It is clear to see in the film that the director creates a sense of empathy for the audience towards the Catholic protesters and creates a villainous image towards the British soldiers.

The film also focuses on the main character Ivan Cooper, who is a Member of Parliament as he tries to maintain a peaceful march.  His good intentions were illustrated within the film and allows for viewers to emotionally connect with him creating a slight bias by the director.  Nevertheless, there are instances in the film where many mischievous teenagers engage in violent attacks against the British soldiers such as throwing rocks, which gives the audience a slight sense of compassion for the British soldiers that in a way may justify the shots fired from them. The film Bloody Sunday, is fair in the way the event unfolded and how it portrayed both sides of the conflict.

Bloody Sunday is a drama that gives a picture of exactly what occurred that day. Nonetheless, some may classify it as a mockumentary. A mockumentary is a type of film in which fictitious events are presented in a documentary format.  Furthermore, Webster defines mockumentary as a facetious or satirical work (as a film) presented in the style of a documentary. An example of a mockumentary is the Blair Witch Project.  When audiences first seen the film many of them thought the film was actual footage captured on video.  It was said that the three individuals in the film were never seen after they captured video of these horrific events; however, their footage was located a year later.  Mockumentaries achieve a sense of utter reality by producing films that seem to be real in the eyes of the audience, and the Blair Witch Project is a great example of that.  Many believed it to be real until it was later announced it was fictitious.  This was done by filming in real time that in turn eluded it to be perceived as reality.  In the case of Bloody Sunday, due to the events really occurring in 1972 in Derry, the film is more in the documentary genre rather than the mockumentary genre of film.

The Northern Ireland conflicts have been going on for many years and have sparked a lot of attention. How does the press cover the conflict? Is it fair or is one side supported more so than the other. This is a debate that is hard to solve.  The television stations of Britain and the Irish Republic are widely, if not patchily, available across Northern Ireland and many argue there are biases by the media from both the Nationalist and the Unionists sides (Herbert 5).  The media has been blamed for instigating and creating tension between the Catholics and the Protestants. The Irish and British governments have gone as far to ban voices of members of people named to be apart of terrorist organizations but this has been avoided by having actors simply say what they want.

It is mind boggling to understand why there is so much conflict between two groups of people whose religious views promote peace.  Whether it is a religious conflict or merely a political and social conflict in the name of civil rights is unclear. What is clear is that people from different religions have been in conflict with one another since the beginning of civilization; therefore it is not rational to make judgment against the conflict in Northern Ireland but to better understand the rational behind the Northern Irish and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Works Cited

“Blair Witch Project.” 2011.03/05 Web. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/

“Bloody Sunday.” 2011.3/6 Web. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0280491/

Elvis Mitchell. The New York Times.Web. <http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C01E2DC1338F931A35753C1A9649C8B63>.

Herbert, David. “Shifting Securities in Northern Ireland.” European journal of cultural studies 10.3 (2007): 343-59. Print.

Merriam-Webster.Web. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mockumentary>.

Mogensen, Kirsten. “Television Journalism during Terror Attacks.” Media, war & conflict 1.1 (2008): 31-49. Print.