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Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (2002)
  • Director:
    Paul Greengrass
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Paul Greengrass
  • Cast:
    James Nesbitt,Tim Pigott-Smith,Nicholas Farrell
  • Time:
    1h 47min
  • Budget:
  • Year:
Documentary-style drama showing the events that led up to the tragic incident on January 30, 1972 in the Northern Ireland town of Derry when a protest march led by civil rights activist Ivan Cooper was fired upon by British troops, killing 13 protesters and wounding 14 more.
Cast overview, first billed only:
James Nesbitt James Nesbitt - Ivan Cooper
Allan Gildea Allan Gildea - Kevin McCorry
Gerard Crossan Gerard Crossan - Eamonn McCann
Mary Moulds Mary Moulds - Bernadette Devlin
Carmel McCallion Carmel McCallion - Bridget Bond (as Carmel Mccallion)
Tim Pigott-Smith Tim Pigott-Smith - Maj. Gen. Ford
Nicholas Farrell Nicholas Farrell - Brig. Maclellan
Christopher Villiers Christopher Villiers - Maj. Steele (as Chris Villiers)
James Hewitt James Hewitt - Col. Tugwell
Declan Duddy Declan Duddy - Gerry Donaghy
Edel Frazer Edel Frazer - Gerry's Girl
Joanne Lindsay Joanne Lindsay - Mary Donaghy
Mike Edwards Mike Edwards - Soldier 027
Gerry Hammond Gerry Hammond - Para F
Jason Stammers Jason Stammers - Para G

Bloody Sunday (2002)

Ruled ineligible to compete for an Oscar in 2003 because it was shown on Irish and British television on the same night that it premiered in a London theater, a violation of the motion picture academy's Rule 3, which requires a six-month wait between the time it is shown in theaters and the time it is shown on TV.

To make this movie as authentic as possible, no lights were used in the movie and the camera work was entirely hand-held

As Ivan Cooper exits home, a theater can be seen, where the movie Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), which was actually showing at the time, is showing.

Three days after this movie's UK television broadcast, Sunday (2002) aired on TV, which chronicled the same event from an alternate perspective.

The Provisional IRA at the time can be heard shouting "Up the Ra".

The civil rights march was organized 30 January 1972. This march developed into what was called "Bloody Sunday", when 14 unarmed civilians were killed.

I have seen "Bloody Sunday" twice now - once on the big screen and once on DVD - and read Don Mullen's book, "Eyewitness Bloody Sunday." This movie is a very realistic depiction of the defining moment of the "troubles" in Northern Ireland. The hand-held cameras and grainy film style make it feel more like a documentary than a movie, which of course is the intent. As another reviewer has mentioned, the acting is very natural throughout. It does take some time to get started, but once the the shooting starts it hits the viewer like a sledgehammer. Very powerful.

The film jumps so frequently from scene to scene that at times it is distracting, though I was much less annoyed by this the second time around. And, having seen it once with and once without subtitles, I must say that although the subtitles (optional on the DVD) are intrusive they are quite welcome. I love the Irish accent but at times it can be difficult for me to decipher,and much of the dialogue in the movie is muted. It was good to know what was being said.

As for the objectivity, of course the movie is slanted - so was the situation. But it is not unreasonably slanted. The British are not shown as one-dimensional demons - in particular, Nicholas Farrell does a great job of conveying Brigadier Mclellan's ambiguity and even disapproval of the course taken against his wishes by the supposed "Observer," Maj. Gen. Ford (who, if the movie has a villain, is the prime candidate.) At one point early on several Paras are discussing the day's prospects, and reveal how tired they are of being harassed, shot at and otherwise abused by the native population. This makes the day's events more understandable. This does not EXCUSE the cold-blooded gunning down of 27 people - there is no excuse for that - but at least one can see a contributing factor. And protesters are shown, once or twice, firing back. (The key here is firing BACK - evidence indicates that no marchers fired until the first two protesters were wounded. And those scattered few that attempted return fire were quickly dissuaded by their countrymen. Later in the day the IRA did go into action, but not until after the bloodletting in Bogside was over with.) Ivan Cooper's (James Nesbitt) words at the close of the film were shown to be all too true in the years since the actual incident. The IRA was on unsteady legs at the time, but has never lacked support since January 30, 1972.

The film is a powerful object lesson concerning the misuse of force, and one that governments everywhere - including my own country, the United States - should take to heart. It has a few flaws, but I think deserves the awards it has received. 8/10 points.
I saw this film about 2 years ago, and was extremely impressed with the realism of the film.Having served with the British Army in Northern Ireland many years later I found the atmosphere and the general appearance and manner of the Paras extremely accurate, as I have seen many films about Ireland when trying to portray British soldiers they unfortunately could of done a little better. I consider myself to be open minded and understood and sympathized with the local catholic population during these events as this is or was pretty much how things are with regards to the catholic population in Northern Ireland.For me, the main good points were that the film was made in a documentary style in which the facts were shown in a straight to the point manner without any fancy computer effects or handsome faces portraying the main players. well done to the production team !!!!
"Bloody Sunday" is a very startling, cinema-verite recreation of a very specific date (January 30, 1972), in a very specific place (Derry, Northern Ireland) of an event that for the Irish became "our Sharpeville."

But for an American audience with no benefit of subtitles for the brogues and working class Brit accents, no explanations outside of eventual context for lingo and slang (it took me awhile to keep track of "provos" vs "paras"), the quasi-documentary, in-your-face approach takes on a tragic universality.

It could be part of a Cassandra trilogy with `Black Hawk Down' and `No Man's Land' about why military should not be in charge in urban strife, whether as "peacekeepers" or in civil wars or regime changes, no matter how heinous the regime to be changed. A lesson for the Baghdad invasion planners?

Cities are complicated social ecologies, and the film shows a great diversity of attitudes and pressures on all sides, managing to be both clinical in meticulous detail and visceral in shocking impact. The film is probably not objective about the British (I don't think it's a coincidence that the imperious Brit "observer" who takes repugnant charge is played by Tim Pigott-Smith who was a similar colonialist in `The Jewel in the Crown.") A central universal image becomes the awesome power of rock-throwing, unemployed teen-age boys to spark war.

The liberals in the middle, clinging to dreams of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and fair community relations, are morally destroyed over the course of a few hours and the extremists with guns on both sides feed on each other in perpetual destruction like the ouroboros image of the snake eating itself. I kept feeling I missed the exact flash point in a wandering attention moment and wanted to immediately re-watch it to see if I could track the gotcha! moment when escalation could have been prevented, so I look forward to this being available on video tape.

But the film does clearly show that it was attitudes that created the violent outcome and consequent government non-investigation, as we see in so many police situations. Once soldiers enter a city it is a police situation with all those complexities.

I know James Nesbitt primarily from frothy Irish comedies, like `BallykissAngel,' so his staggering portrayal of the M.P. in the middle is a revelation, as he goes from planning a civil rights march to pleading with his girlfriend to physical heroism to a break-down in shock.

The version of the titular U2 song played out at the end, running well past the credits finish, is a moving, live, passionate audience sing-along where Bono shouts out other locales that have experienced similar situations to emphasize the universality.
being from belfast, i have an all too familiar recollection of this and many other tragic events.

being born protestant, i have little use for the cowardly, yet brutal and malicious, mutation of the provisional ira; under the helm of gerry addams.

being born sentient, i have little use for the fire and brimstone polarisations; counterspin and half-truths of ian paisley.

being born human, i have empathy for the slain.

the bloody Sunday massacre in derry, was a tragic testament to man's blood-lust, fueled by fear and adrenaline. the events depicted in the movie "bloody Sunday," provide an arresting portrayal of a tacitly monumental aspect of modern ulster history. the portrayals of the people and the events maintain an objective testimony toward a tragedy that is both sobering and inexcusable.

"bloody Sunday" takes no sides, and distributes no blame. it simply reenacts the events as they were recorded, and lets the viewer make his or her own decisions.

if you are familiar with the conflict; if you are distressed by man's inhumanity unto himself; if you are simply interested in a detached account of history; this is an important film to see.
Naive or not, the film version of Bloody Sunday couldn't do anything else but show the pandemoneum and confusion of a massacre of many innocent people. This confusion was shown on both sides. An army of young men being thrown into a situation which they didn't understand. A people of a City riddled with gerrymandering and oppression.

The film showed stones being answered by guns and gas. As a British citizen I was moved and shocked. The film brought to life the many books i've read on the subject. It didn't point blame. It was never shown in the film who fired first but it showed that both sides fired. It documented how 13 people protesting for civil rights (majority of them children) were gunned down in cold blood by a 'peace keeping' security force. The bodies are the evidence, their memory is the legacy.

This film highlights the importance of sensitivity when approaching the dark days of our history. It succeeds where so many films fail by showing that no good can come from such events. A sterling performance from James Nesbitt shows that he is a versatile actor not afraid of approaching difficult and controversial roles. Perhaps we should forget the bickering and respect this for what it is; a stylistically impressive and well acted movie.
'Bloody Sunday' is, if nothing else, a very powerful film and,

depending on which side you're on ideologically, can move you to

tears or incite you with rage. Is this film an accurate depiction of

the days events? I personally can't say for certain. Having read

enough contemporary Irish history, including Don Mullan's

"Eyewitness Bloody Sunday", I can say that both sides of the

conflict in Northern Ireland can conduct some very shady

operations and dealings when the moment suits them. A lot of

people have asked "Where was the IRA in this "no-go zone" that

they controlled?" Well according to the book they had been asked

by NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association) to remain at

the Creggan Estate. Cooper and the rest of NICRA knew that the

march was banned and they didn't need the Provos to cause

anymore trouble. Also, at that point the Provos were at a nadir of

sorts in terms of numbers and support. There was a lot of hope

placed in the Civil Rights movement, and Bloody Sunday crushed

all chances of it really succeeding. The operation conducted by 1

Para was, I can only hope, a "grab & snatch" operation gone

terribly, terribly wrong.

I can only surmise that out of the some 10,000 people in the

march (not a few hundred as listed in other reviews) some were

either in the IRA if not most definitely IRA sympathisers. Do I

believe most of the marchers that were killed to be innocent

civilians? Yes. Should the "young hooligans" have thrown stones

at the RUC & British Armed Forces? Probably not. Did the IRA

shoot first or did 1 Para? I doubt that with all the confusion going

on, between CS gas & rubber bullets being fired anyone can tell

for certain. I don't think that the Widgery Report was anywhere

near right, or the current Saville Inquiry will get it 100% right either.

But these opinions are coming from a remove of 30 years and a

pretty large ocean.

As for the film itself. i liked it. James Nesbit gave a career defining

performance as far as I'm concerned, going from the height of one

emotion to the absolute depths of another. The Gerry Donaghy

character's accent was a little thick, to say the least. However he

played a good victim with Republican feelings. The jerky handheld

camera, which people either love or hate, worked well in this

movie. It gave a real sense of being "in the moment." Long story

short I'd give this film 3 1/2 stars out of 4.
Normally I don't enjoy the handheld documentary style films, as they tend to induce waves of nausea, but Bloody Sunday had me riveted from the word go. That we already know how it's going to end is irrelevant, the pressure building on the day of the march is almost unbearable. Though there's been criticism that the film is slanted towards the republican point of view, I found it balanced, even in the depiction of the soldiers and officers. Everybody certainly looked the part and I went away feeling some sympathy for both sides. Given the close quarters and inflammatory nature of the conflict, it's amazing that bloodbaths like this (soldiers blasting civilians) haven't happened more often in Northern Ireland. It's only now, that retired soldiers have broken ranks and talked about what actually happened, that a film like this can see the light of day.
Obviously an important day in history, and the events of that day are breathtakingly conveyed by the best Docudrama filmmaker we have, Paul Greengrass, Before we Knew who he was-and that may have made a certain difference in my experience of the film-it was more exhilarating (and impressive) before Greengrass had made a name for himself at this kind of documentary-styled filmmaking. This one, when it came out, definitely gave me goosebumps....todd gold
English screenwriter, producer and director Paul Greengrass' television film which he wrote, is inspired by a novel called "Eyewitness Bloody Sunday" from 1997 by Irish author Don Mullan and real events which took place on the 30th of January in 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland. It premiered at the 18th Sundance Film Festival in 2002, was screened In competition at the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2002, was shot on locations in Derry and Dublin in Ireland and is an Ireland- UK co-production which was produced by British producer Mark Redhead. It tells the story about an Irish nationalist and politician named Ivan Cooper and his fellow members of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association who on one Sunday in January 1972 began walking a peaceful march through the streets of Derry, Northern Ireland to demonstrate against internment without a trial, the suppression Catholics had suffered from Protestants, to end unionist rule and for equality. And the story of the members of the British Army whom the Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland had requested.

Distinctly and engagingly directed by European filmmaker Paul Greengrass, this finely paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character's point of view, draws a conscientious portrayal of a non-violent political demonstration, banned by the government of Northern Ireland, for social justice which escalated into an uncivilized riot where rocks and bricks were answered with live rounds. While notable for its distinctly naturalistic milieu depictions and use of sound, this narrative-driven story about a late 20th century conflict which happened four decades ago during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s where the constitutional status of Northern Ireland was, and still is, a matter of contradictory views between the Catholic community who thinks that their country should become part of a United Ireland and leave the United Kingdom and the Protestant community who thinks that their country should remain within the United Kingdom, objectively examines how events occurred during a winter day when the city of Londonderry was crowded by Irish civil rights campaigners, hooligans, civilian observers, members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the press and a British battalion who was there to make necessary arrests.

This sociological, conversational and important reconstruction and retelling of a politically instigated historic event and unjustifiable massacre which ended with fourteen male citizens, many of them seventeen-year-old boys, losing their lives, soldiers of The First Battalion, Parachute Regiment being decorated by Queen Elizabeth II of England, an increasing amount of young men joining the paramilitary organization called the IRA and the families of those who were killed getting an official apology from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron thirty-eight years later, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, interrelated viewpoints, vital atmosphere, timely and distinct editing by British film editor Clare Douglas and the prominent acting performance by Irish television and film actor James Nesbitt. An authentic, truthful and reverent documentary drama from the early 2000s which gained, among numerous other awards, the Golden Bear tied with Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" (2001) at the 52nd Berlin Film Festival in 2002.
A very well done movie. I found it to be a very factual and a very frank account of a terrible time in Irish/British history.

When compared to other books and materials I have read about the account in the past few years, I would have to say it was probably about as accurate as it could be. Of course we don't hear the exact language that was used, especially by British commanders during that time, but I think the movie gives a very likely occurrence of what happened behind closed doors.

Soldiers that were allowed to speak up, many years after the fact, have themselves, shed light onto what happened during that time.
Although initially difficult to get into, Bloody Sunday proved worthwhile persevering, as the latter half puts the viewer in the carnage.

The acting, especially James Nesbit is excellent, the recreation of the mood is superb although it was obvious with the constant close ups that there was very little budget to recreate the scenery. The geography was never explained and therefore would leave a viewer without prior knowledge of the area disorientated.

The documentary suffered from not being able to set the scene, a lot had happened in the week prior to the Civil Rights march that put both the participants and the security forces on edge and made the advance more significant. The question of why the Paras were sent to Derry were never fully explored.

Overall it was flawless recreation of events from the point of view taken by the film makers on this particular incident. It is worth noting that this is based on the Irish Governments review of the Widgery report into Bloody Sunday. (NB the Widgery report is mostly considered by nationalists to be a white wash)
Certainly, anything dealing with "The Troubles" of Northern Ireland will quickly create a great divide between opposing viewpoints, and obviously 'Bloody Sunday' is no exception. For the record, I am no fan of the IRA. On the other hand I am no fan of sending an attacking force into a civil disturbance as police support. History is replete with evidence that this is simply a bad idea and will likely lead to an atrocity. For this I heap far more blame at the feet of British politicians who move their army around like chess pieces rather than at the feet of the army itself. And I believe Paul Greengrass handles this as such. Brigadier Maclellan is portrayed as a thoroughly professional soldier who is very conscientious about handling the march with minimal force yet finds this insurmountable upon the arrival of Major General Ford, who seems determined to have his Paras show those pesky Republicans who's boss. The Paras themselves are an elite attacking unit. They are trained to jump from planes and kill with maximum effect, not to make sure peace marchers remain peaceful. They don't want to be there any more than the Irish Catholics want them to be there. They're not policemen. They are frustrated and angry, but they are the ones with guns, Queen and country behind them. And when told to move in, they move in with a vengeance. Again, sending an assault force into a civil insurrection is just a bad idea. The inquest that followed may have been incomplete, but with all due respect to the Parachute Regiment in an unenviable situation, it was a massacre regardless of who fired first (and again Paul Greengrass does not take sides here and make it obvious where the first shot came from). There is a huge difference between understanding why something happened and attempting to justify it.

That said, Paul Greengrass's near pathological attention to detail ceases to amaze me after multiple viewings. Having long been a student of the army in Northern Ireland, there is no fault to be found in reference to the soldiers. The flak jackets worn beneath old pattern Para smocks, the mix of maroon berets and para helmets, the wood stocks of the rifles rather than the later plastic. Paul Greengrass apparently hired ex-servicemen who had done tours in Northern Ireland, thus eliminating the need to train the cinematic soldiers to look like real soldiers. They knew the lingo, they knew how to hold their weapons, they knew how to assault. In fact, Simon Mann, the actor who plays the Para commanding officer, was once in the British Special Air Service (SAS) until 1985, and in 2004 was arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of planning a coup in Equatorial Guinea. Many of the scenes are carbon copies of actual incidents seen in archival footage of the actual march. If you are familiar with such footage, you begin to forget you're watching a recreation.

It is a dark and cold film. It is gray and gritty. There is no dramatic score. The camera-work is often shaky. Dialogue is sometimes hard to understand. What is going on is sometimes confusing. And you know what? Life is like that sometimes, and that's what makes this film so powerful and brutally realistic.
This is a film with a terrible nerve, from the press conferences in the Sunday morning, through the preparations for the march and the preparations of the military, and forward to the scenes in the hospital afterwards. The camera is working in a way, there you definitely can feel the gloomy weather and the excitement.

It's also a 1972 feeling about it, which doesn't feel acted, but like a documentary. James Nesbitt is making a tremendous job as the MP and when you notice that this man hasn't got an Oscar, the Oscar institution definitely seems like the stupid joke it is.

The only thing you can have against this Paul Greengrass' movie is the tendency in the end, where the relative documentary objectivity in the beginning, moves over to tendency. The unionists and the British government remain the totally bad guys and the catholics are the eternal martyrs. They might have been that this Sunday, but the conflict of Northern Ireland is a little more complicated.

However, this is definitely more exciting than most of what you see in the action genre.
Paul Greengrass directs this dramatization of the civil rights march that ended with British paratroopers killing 13 civilians, kicking off the long and bloody civil war that engulfed Northern Ireland for the next 30 years. Greengrass manages to do justice to the events despite his terrible visual style that involves an insanely shaky camera and hundreds of pointless jagged edits. This is largely chalked up to "documentary realism", but no documentarian would be happy with a film that consciously draws attention to it's own stylistic quirks and away from the events depicted in the film. James Nesbitt stars as Ivan Cooper, a politician who organized the march and bore witness to much of the slaughter. He does a magnificent job of depicting hope and optimism dying.
I've been getting overall information from IMDb for quite a while. Couple of days ago, I accidentally read a list called 'Best Irish movies'. By double checking, or triple checking or even more maybe, because I was too upset to count and I couldn't find this film, which made me terribly upset about till now. For those who haven't see this film, you need to see this film before you want to make any comment on Irish films.

Secondly, Paul Greengrass has set up a new standard of handy cam producing. I believe many late comers learned a lot from him. It's such a brilliant work. All these intense scenarios, conflicts and faces built in this film are not just impressive, I would say it's unforgettable.

Sometimes, people move on because life told them to. But sometimes, people cried and fought because no more they can hold on to.

This film, is definitely & absolutely the BEST Irish film, EVER.
having been born in England and never truly understood or been taught the full story of Ireland and England's long lasting disputes -having been raised in Australia since i was 8 and born in the 80s,after this event occurred-i watched this film to gain a solid understanding of why i came from a town thats so heavily attacked by the I.R.A -Birmingham... what i felt when i finished this film shocked me ........ i am a huge horror fan ,so the idea of me crying as i watch a film is very rare -i think three films other than this one have succeeded in my 28yrs of life- but when i ended my viewing of "bloody Sunday", i was still wiping my eyes . it is a very powerful ,well recreated retelling of the Bloody Sunday massacre and James Nesbitt was absolutely astounding and his final speech brought me to tears as i wondered why this had to occur at all .....i say this film is a must see for everyone -just like films like Hotel Rwanda , American History X ,or This is England
Bias view but good drama and account of the days events. The drama/documentary style worked well and no doubt will have stirred up emotions in viewers both British and Irish. I'm not privy to the full facts of that day but even I could sense there was an agenda behind this documentary and it stuck in my throat.
Nothing personal
Nothing personal
As many of the previous commenters have pointed out, this is a very exciting and well acted film about a shameful day in British history. However, the documentary style film-making style means that factual omissions and implications have greater impact than in a film that doesnt purport to be 'historical fact'.

A couple of the previous comments have stated that Bloody Sunday was the start of the 'Armed Struggle'. In fact, the hardline Provisional IRA split from the Official IRA in 1970, 2 years before Bloody Sunday - this was the start of the resumption of IRA military operations. 200 soldiers, policemen and civilians were murdered in 1970-1, so the soldiers would indeed have been scared about being shot, and would also have wanted to 'strike back'. I didn't think that these motivations were portrayed in the film, and other than the historical omissions this is the only real weakness of the film which i would recommend to anyone irrespective of their own opinions on Northern Ireland.
As I really don't know anything about the events depicted in this film, I can't say whether it's a realistic or biased account of what happened. As "just" a film, I found it to be very good.

The documentary style of shooting it works most of the time (the constant fade ins/outs really bothered me though), and the film builds up tension and keeps you watching. The acting is also good. Nesbitt skillfully manages to switch moods depending on who he is talking to, all with remarkable ease. Also, kudos to the actor portraying the commander (or whatever you call it) of the British paras. He doesn't seem to be acting at all, it's like you're really watching a documentary when he is on screen.

Towards the end, the film does tend to skip realism a bit, as it seems to side with the demonstrators a tad too much, while showing off all English soldiers as cold blooded killers. On the whole though, a very watchable film. [8/10]
On 30th January 1972 Londonderry Ivan Cooper is one of the group of volunteers that put together a march against internment and campaigning for civil rights. The march starts peacefully but breakaway youths start rioting against the military presence, throwing abuse and stones. The march continues but, under the impression that the army have been fired on, the army open fire on the marchers. At first they fire over the marchers heads, however the confusion and chaos builds and innocent civilians begin to fall. At the end of the day, 27 civilians are shot, 13 of them are killed, of all ages. This is a dramatisation of the events that contains scenes and dialogue that are fictional. The film is however based on documented evidence.

Films about Northern Ireland tend to reveal what side of the fence people are on. I'm from Northern Ireland (until a few years ago) and am a Protestant. However I'm in two minds about this film. The first hour or so is really good, the story unfolds in a series of scenes that fade in and out - this technique makes it feel a little episodic but happily doesn't go on for the whole film. The main strength of the film is that it uses handheld cameras to create a great sense of chaos, confusion and disorientation. This helps show the events in a relatively balanced light. It's not clear if shots are fired at the army or not - it's so noisy that some of the bangs could have been shot. What is clear that the military were as confused as the marchers - however the film does allow the fact that many police and soldiers had been murdered in the run up to the march and at least it shows the IRA having an armed presence and returning fire.

It also bravely shows civilians being shot - this is hard to accept but lets be honest (13 dead) this happened. It starts to show it's bias towards the end of the march when soldiers are shown shooting marchers who are wounded on the ground etc, however for the most the chaos is palatable and the soldiers are shown as on-edge and a little too ready to react (however they were in a war zone - Free Derry was not the best place for anyone not supporting the IRA to be).

The final 30 minutes of the film deals with the aftermath of the events. This is where it nails it's colours to the wall. It shows the soldiers lying to the investigating bodies and making up things that didn't happen - these scenes are clearly the dramatised ones. However if the film claims to be based on evidence then why does it totally ignore the testimony of the soldiers who claimed they opened fire on armed men? Yes they hit civilians but the starting point may have been the IRA opening fire. The way the film shows that the army are lying goes against the claim that it is based on documented evidence - if it were truly based on evidence then it would mix the testimony of marchers and soldiers. I'm sure that the soldiers are not blame free but this is a clumsy finger pointing exercise.

The problem is this - it wants to have it's cake and eat it. It wants to be taken as a documentary style film (the director is a former World in Action producer) but it also wants to include fictional scenes. It can't have it both ways - this allows the film maker to do anything he wants in the fictional scenes and back it up with the claim of documented evidence. It's a shame because the chaos and confusion of the march is so well handled and manages to spread blame evenly without finger pointing. However it blows it's credibility at the end by revealing a horrible bias.

The cast are all quite good but the standout is James Nesbit in one of the best roles I've seen him in (I'm not just saying that because he's a fellow Coleraine lad!). He starts out as a happy go lucky politician type but slows becomes a white-faced witness to the deaths on the day. His horror looks so real and echoes the viewers emotions. He helps us see that what happened was terrible, regardless of the circumstances (even if the civilians were caught in cross fire, it's still terrible) and that the horror on the day extends beyond religious boundaries.

If you compare this with Sunday that deals with the same subject, this comes across much better and with much less finger pointing, but it's still as guilty of using fictional scenes to incriminate one side. It's a shame that the film takes the evidence of marchers as gospel but ignores the claims of soldiers that they were under fire themselves. Where did the IRA go on that day? Free Derry was an IRA stronghold that was guarded by patrolled by armed men - it was a RUC and army no-go area. The claim that they had an armed presence there on the day seems perfectly reasonable to me. In fact the idea that they had no part in the day at all (apart from a few men chased off by civilians) seems ludicrous.

Overall this is quite good - the march is well handled and feels chaotic and confused, leading to the deaths. However the final half hour is pure fiction and is an exercise is clumsy finger pointing. With the enquiry still going on, why don't we wait just wait to see what the outcome of that is? Why do filmmakers feel they have carte-blanche to rewrite history, using or discarding evidence as they see fit. Worth watching for the harrowing depiction of events spinning out of control but please look into the evidence yourself - don't just assume that you can tell what is made up and which bits aren't. 6 out of 10 (but only for the excellent hand-held camera coverage of the march).
Paul Greengrass has made a provocative drama documentary of the events in Derry in January 1972 which is to this day still an open wound.

The film with its numerous quick edits covers events over 24 hours from Saturday evening with its main character Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt), a Protestant MP for the Social Democratic Labour Party and leading a peaceful anti-internment march which developed into the Bloody Sunday massacre on 30 January 1972.

Most of the 10,000 marchers that day would be Catholics, some with IRA links. Cooper wanted to develop a pan religion civil rights movement to counteract the violent nationalist and loyalist groups.

Intercut with Cooper organising the march are the British troops setting up roadblocks and barricades to prevent the march going much further due to newly introduced restrictions on marches.

When some rebellious youth start to to throw bricks at the troops they are met with a disproportionate response as the army shoot at some of the protesters which lead to thirteen people being left for dead.

The events ended up being a prime propaganda tool for the IRA. It turned many of the Irish against the presence of the mainland troops and set back the civil rights movement and any hope of a peaceful resolution to the Troubles.

Greengrass's documentary approach does not leave much for characterisation. Apart from Cooper, many of the people are painted in broad strokes with Tim Piggott-Smith's Major Ford being the main hissable villain.

Greengrass also does well to recreate the early 1970s setting and look. The editing might be jarring but the art direction, costumes and make up are well realised.
I wanted to see Bloody Sunday because it was the first film directed by Paul Greengrass, one of my favourite directors working today thanks to his efforts in the likes of his three BOURNE films and UNITED 93. I'm pleased to report that Greengrass's trademark stylistic touches - shaky, hand-held camera-work, sudden zooms, a documentary-like feel - are all present even at this stage, making for a film that looks very good.

The story itself is the true-life tale about a notorious massacre perpetuated by British soldiers in Northern Ireland in 1972. Everybody knows what happened - much as in UNITED 93 - but Greengrass's gritty realism makes this a hugely suspenseful tale without having to rely on the usual suspense-building tactics like ominous music and the like. Greengrass is content to let the tale tell itself, and the film works well as a result. He's also careful not to take sides, showing the reality from both the British and the Irish. Some fine performances, including a career-best James Nesbit in the closing scenes, round out a solid effort.
Powerful, provocative & prompting, Bloody Sunday is a meticulously researched, expertly crafted & thoroughly gripping recreation of the Bogside massacre that occurred in the Northern Ireland town of Derry when British troops opened fire on civilians during a protest march, killing 14 & wounding just as many in the process.

Dramatising the events that led to the tragic incident on January 30, 1972, Bloody Sunday follows a civil right activist named Ivan Cooper who was the central organiser of the peaceful rally against internment that ended when British army paratroopers began firing on the unarmed demonstrators in full view of the public & the press.

Written & directed by Paul Greengrass, the movie sets its foreboding tone right within the opening segment after which it takes a step back to put its pieces on the board but once the stage is set, it explodes & moves forward with stunning immediacy. Greengrass' direction is at its very best when things go south & the whole episode is extensively detailed in the script.

Cinematography employs the quasi-documentary-style to film the entire event as it unfolds, thus bringing the viewers right into the conflict, while the frenetic hand-held camera-work further reflects the chaotic nature of such circumstances. Editing is slick for the most part, music is nearly absent and its cast contributes with convincing performances, playing their given roles with utmost sincerity.

On an overall scale, Bloody Sunday is a fiercely directed, deftly scripted, viciously photographed, skilfully edited & brilliantly performed movie that brings the dreadful event to life with remarkable precision, brims with intense emotions from start to finish, and not only works as a riveting thriller but also as an unsettling documentary. Disturbing & disquieting but essential viewing nonetheless, Bloody Sunday is strongly recommended.
I have posted before on this film. I am from Northern Ireland and am well aware of the facts and feel qualified to give an opinion.

There are so many faults with this film that seem to be being ignored. This is based on the statements to the Saville inquiry as people have said..but guess what, the Saville inquiry is only half way through the evidence and hasn't heard from the soldiers involved.

This is biased, it was made by a well known left wing film maker Paul Greengrass, who used to work for World in Action. That is not to denegrate anyone for being left wing but it should flag up where they are coming from.

The film showed a token IRA presence, which was included no doubt to allow rioters to be seen chasing them away, I wish. There is equal evidence and claims of the IRA shooting first why was this not shown in the film? There were a number of IRA men on the streets that day, why show one or two.

Why because it is more fashionable to knock the army, and to assume their guilt even though the Saville enquiry has not finished. I wonder if the enquiry finds any different from this film or hears conflicting evidence will we see another film being made - hardly.

What next? a film about the three innocent 'tourists' in Gibraltar? or the poor AlQueda tourists on the streets of Khandahar?

What about a film showing how the IRA tied poor catholic workers to vehicles with explosives turning them into 'suicide bombers' all beit that the IRA hadn't the bottle to drive them themselves.
I've just seen this film, and give it a 8/10 rating, it is for me, an Irishman living in the South, a terrifying account of a day which will always be indelibly stamped on my memory. The national newspapers carried the images of the slain in graphic detail, which to a child (as I was then), became the dawning of the realisation of the turmoil which was Northern Ireland of the early 70's. I did not understand then, why they were shot, and sadly after 30+ years we still do not know the reason why the Paras opened fire. This movie does give an accurate dipiction and the acting is brilliant, especially the Para officers who are incredibly believable. I can see where film goers on the other side of the Atlantic Pond, got impatient with the dialog and shaky camera work, this is not easy viewing.However for me it was as if those terrible black and white images carried on the national press the following day, suddenly came to life in raw power, well done to the makers, powerful stuff. I also wish that commentators to this great website, would refrain from their political bias and comment on the film. Who cares what side you are from ? it's got nothing to do with this film.