Guest Review by Daniel of: ’71
This year I was fortunate enough to attend the 41st annual Telluride Film Festival. At the festival I saw my fair share of outstanding films (Foxcatcher, Birdman, etc.) one movie reached me in a more profound way: Yann Demange’s ’71.
Perhaps I should preface this review by mentioning that I come (at least in part) from an Irish catholic heritage and the issue of a united Ireland has always been important to me, so when I looked through the program and saw a movie about the troubles I knew right away what I wanted to see, and I was not disappointed.
Yann Demange introduced his own film by lamenting that his film is still relevant, after all, at its heart ’71 is about how young men and children are hurt in war, an issue as pertinent as ever.
In ’71 we follow a young British soldier deployed to Belfast at the height of the troubles. After witnessing the disgusting treatment of Irish Catholics at the hands of the occupying British forces and their Ulster unionist allies a riot begins. In the ensuing chaos our protagonist is separated from his comrades and is forced to navigate the hostile streets of Catholic Belfast. At this point in the film the protagonist, having seen how abusive the occupying British force can be has become somewhat disillusioned with the British war effort. The viewer is then taken down a rabbit hole of human suffering; we meet a foul mouthed unionist child, a sensitive catholic teenager who has taken up fighting with the IRA. We see infighting, botched bombings, collusion of British and unionist forces, in the end the only constant is the pain felt by all the citizens of Belfast and Northern Ireland in general, perhaps most prevalently though we see how children are placed in the front lines of these conflicts and trained to hate the other to the point of being willing to commit acts of astounding brutality.
RMC note: This film has a UK release date of October 10th. We don’t know when it will be released in the US.