Bloody Sunday

7.61 h 50 min2002R
A dramatization of the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops on January 30, 1972.
Paul Greengrass
James NesbittTim Pigott-SmithNicholas Farrell
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Gerard McSorleyKathy Kiera ClarkeAllan GildeaGerard CrossanMary MouldsCarmel McCallionDeclan DuddyKathy Kiera Clarke
Mark Redhead
R (Restricted)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

378 global ratings

  1. 72% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

BixReviewed in the United States on January 30, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Slowly, The TRUTH Prevails
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The paramilitary British troops instigated their own slaughterhouse.
MP Cooper said it best, "The British have given the IRA their greatest victory".
To this very day, there has been no serious effort by the British government to establish the facts. As so much time has passed, History will never know the true events, except that the British military fired upon unarmed civilians with jacketed ammunition.
The real "yabbos" the miserably trained and wrongly deployed RUC and paras. The mere presence of RUC and British regulars ("paras") was provocative and initiated a massacre.
I am Catholic, lived in Eire and worked in Belfast. I am NOT an IRA supporter. This was about a simple peaceful protest for civil rights in Derry. The marchers were MIXED Catholic and Protestants.
This is what happens when the military are poorly trained and vetted, then brought into a situation that does not require their presence. The paras and RUC simply wanted to fire their guns with jacketed ammunition at live targets. After all, this is what they were trained to do.
This act amounted to premeditate murder by the state and a following, shameful cover-up.
HM's government IS still COVERING UP. FOR SHAME.
The last British government investigation into the slaughter also did NOT 'come clean'.
How did the soldiers acquire live rounds? They were not officially issued live rounds. Note that baton rubber rounds are not all rubber, but simply a thin rubber coating on top of silica and perhaps zinc. "Rubber" rounds are deadly.
That day in 1971, was a pitifully shameful incompetent military operation. It was wanton murder, —state sponsored shillelagh law with high powered, .37 assault weapons.
If I write any more, I will break down.
10 people found this helpful
westpointDJReviewed in the United States on October 24, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A True Five-Star Achievement
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Stunning. This simply must be seen to be believed. Ireland is one place I've not been to in this life. Now I know it will remain that way for me. I'll never set foot in a place where their army could do what is depicted in this film. Peaceful demonstrators were fired upon in the most vicious manner possible. The army shot directly into the thickest part of the crowd; into people who never once picked up a stone to throw in their lives. These people were peacefully assembling to protest the unjust indefinite detention of suspected IRA members. That's all.

The protest was finished and they were all planning to depart and go home to their families when suddenly the psychotic Irish Army decides to shoot them all, even women and elders. One man holds up a white flag, yet they blew his head off. Others helping the dying were also shot, just for going into the street to help their friends. Then they rounded up the people and lined them up against the wall like Nazi Germany, further terrorizing them. If the truth is indeed anything like shown in this film, this is the SICKEST mass shooting I can think of, outside the Amritsar Massacre in India. And these bastards were never disciplined, but rather reward later on by the Queen.

The acting is SUPERB by all, especially the lead actor. The direction and realism is spectacular and shocking. NOT TO BE MISSED.
One person found this helpful
Paul HaspelReviewed in the United States on September 7, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Bloody Sunday's tragedy, captured in cinéma-vérité style
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"Bloody Sunday" creates almost unbearable tension as director Paul Greengrass recreates the tragic events of 30 January 1972 in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, when thirteen unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by soldiers of an elite British parachute regiment. There have been a number of cinematic treatments of the Northern Ireland conflict -- Jim Sheridan's "In the Name of the Father" (1993) is probably the best-known -- but "Bloody Sunday" remains unique because of the restraint with which the story is told. The events of Bloody Sunday are allowed to speak for themselves, increasing the dramatic impact of the film.

Paul Greengrass's directorial style seems to be a deliberate choice of minimalism. I'm not sure whether to call it cinéma vérité or something else. In many ways, it reminds me of the Dogme 95 school of filmmaking, set forth back in the 1990's by a group of Danish directors led by Lars von Trier. The Dogme directors committed to following a strict set of rules -- e.g., hand-held camera only, no music without a practical on-screen source such as a radio -- all of which were meant to make sure that what appeared on screen would feel more real, less stylized. Greengrass seems to be following at least some of these rules, and his doing so gives the film a documentary-style realism. The abrupt fades from one scene to the next leave the viewer feeling perpetually off balance.

(Special note to American viewers: The accents that one hears in the film -- not just Northern Irish accents, but also accents from different parts of England, Scotland, and Wales -- are rather strong. When I showed this film for a class at Penn State, my students asked me to activate the subtitles so that they could understand better.)

James Nesbitt plays Ivan Cooper, the real-life Protestant politician who sought to build a multi-religious coalition of people who would march together for civil rights, and for an end to the endemic and systemic discrimination that the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland then faced. American viewers who know Nesbitt only as the hapless but likable hog farmer Pig Finn in "Waking Ned Devine" (1998) will here see him playing a very different sort of character -- a confident, forceful, dynamic leader, optimistic that he and the people he is leading are on the right side of history. When an IRA leader says, "Marchin's not gonna solve this thing," Ivan's reply is a succinct, "Watch us." Ivan and his supporters, following the example of the American Civil Rights movement, emphasize their commitment to non-violence, and sing "We Shall Overcome" as they make their way among the poverty-stricken flats of the Bogside; and their optimism is touching precisely because we know that, on this day at least, it is unjustified.

The factors that will contribute to the tragedy of Bloody Sunday are many. A small group of lads, militantly opposed to the British presence in Northern Ireland, seem motivated at least as much by mischief as they are by politics. The British soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 Para), forever cooped up in their Saracen half-tracks as they roll through hostile nationalist neighborhoods, are tired of being taunted, and their supervisors assume that the march will be marked by violence and hooliganism. The audience senses at once the inappropriateness of an elite offensive military unit being deployed in a domestic peacekeeping role. British General Ford (played by Tim Pigott-Smith), calling for get-tough measures against the Catholics (whom he doesn't mind telling jokes about), is portrayed as a personification of aristocratic hauteur; his immediate subordinate, Brigadier Patrick MacLellan (played by Nicholas Farrell), has official tactical command of the British response to the march, and wants to handle the banned march with "minimum force," but seems to have no real power as long as Ford is around. The practical, experience-based perspectives of the city's Chief Superintendent Lagan (played by Gerard McSorley) are blithely ignored by the arrogant Ford.

The film's pale, desaturated color scheme adds to its air of realism, as angry young nationalists break away from the main parade, and 1 Para soldiers, anxious to kick some arse, start shooting. The image of a march steward's corpse, draped in a bloodsoaked "Derry Civil Rights Association" banner, speaks volumes. As Lagan angrily asks MacLellan, "You call *that* minimum force?"

Yet the film does not end with the shootings. It is striking to see Private Lomas, the one conscience-stricken member of the 1 Para unit that fired upon the protesters, trying to decide whether to tell the truth as the members of a military board of inquiry ask, "Were all the rounds fired in accordance with the yellow card?" General Ford washes his hands of the affair, placing a stricken-looking MacLellan in charge of the inquiry while stressing that "My role on the day was purely as an observer." We hear a heartbroken Ivan Cooper say to the British government, "You've destroyed the Civil Rights Movement. And you've given the IRA the biggest victory it will ever have." In the darkened hallway of an apartment building, we see IRA gunmen handing weapons to new recruits, and we know that what is still called "the bloody watershed" in Northern Ireland, one of the worst periods of the civil conflict there, is about to unfold.

Greengrass's minimalist style perfectly complements this heartbreaking story, and the DVD contains one particularly haunting extra -- an interview between actor James Nesbitt, who played Ivan Cooper, and the real-life Ivan Cooper, conducted in the part of Derry where the Bloody Sunday shootings occurred. The contrast between the peaceful, post-Good Friday Accord city of today and the urban battleground of 1972 is striking.

Much has changed since 1972, and even since this film's release in 2002. In contrast to the 1972 Widgery Report that largely exonerated the British Army, the Saville Inquiry, published in 2010, concluded that British troops had "lost control" and fired on unarmed demonstrators, and British Prime Minister David Cameron offered an official apology on behalf of the British Government. While there is still plenty of tension in Northern Ireland, especially during the summertime "marching season," the peace established by the Good Friday Accords has, in the main, held. "Bloody Sunday" reminds us of a past that Northern Ireland will hopefully never return to, and draws a singularly powerful picture of the ways in which, in any politically volatile society, tragic events can take on their own momentum.
17 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on August 17, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Moving account of massacre of people in Derry in 1972
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Bloody Sunday provides a very moving account of the shooting of civilians by British troops in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972. Things started out with a peaceful march for civil rights and then quickly got out of control. That’s what the film tries to explain. The story is told from multiple perspectives. The organizer of the march James Nesbitt was a parliamentarian who struggled to keep things peaceful. On the other hand the British army commander believed the demonstration was a front for militants and wanted to “teach them a lesson.” The ending is a bloody tragedy. The message is powerful as well about how the incident led to greater violence in Northern Ireland. It’s a pretty striking condemnation of the British army.
rabbitReviewed in the United States on September 5, 2012
3.0 out of 5 stars
Paul Greengrass
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I'm working backwards through Director Paul Greengrass' body of work starting with "United 93" then "The Bourne Supremacy." I never heard of "Bloody Sunday" the movie or the event, which happened when I was a young adult.

I can see why Paul Greengrass was chosen to direct "United 93" because of "Bloody Sunday," as Director Greengrass said in the bonus material on "United 93."

In "Bloody Sunday" Director Greengrass is recounting an horrific event. All is done in hand held letting us be right next to the charactor.

The only thing missing in "Bloody Sunday" is the big budget like Director Greengrass' following works:

[[ASIN:B000GH3CR0 United 93 (Widescreen Edition)]]

[[ASIN:B0002ZDVEU The Bourne Supremacy (Widescreen Edition)]]
One person found this helpful
John M. VassarReviewed in the United States on July 1, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
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What a film! Although I wasn't quite sure whether I was watching a film or a documentary and still wonder. Much of the dialogue is difficult to follow due to the Ulster accent and the circumstances of the action and it doesn't matter. Real cinema verite with a very realistic, gritty atmosphere. James Nesbitt is terrific as the politician who is not quite in control of the situation and the tragedy as it unfolds. You'll see his anguished face in your dreams/nightmares. Never quite sure of any film that seeks to tell the story of something as complicated as Bloody Sunday as opposed to a documentary, but this film works and works well. See it.
4 people found this helpful
Daniel C.Reviewed in the United States on February 5, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Can't understand half of what is said
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My "headline says it all.
One person found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on April 8, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
horrible cinematography and editing
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horrible cinematography and editing, incredibly boring even from someone watching for an historical account.
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