30th January 1972
Tired of the unlawful imprisonment of Irish nationals, politician and civil rights activist Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt) organizes a march in Derry intended to be a peaceful protest despite knowing that the march is against the rules set out by the British military that have a stronghold in the city. Major General Ford (Tim Pigott-Smith) and his men who are simmering with anger over several soldiers killed in the previous weeks and months are ready for a fight and need little in the way of provocation. When a group of teenage hooligans decides to throw rocks at the soldiers it is the provocation that the soldiers needed to open fire on anyone who is in their sights leading to a massacre.
I wasn't born until late on in 1972 and so was not even around when the events of "Bloody Sunday" unfolded on the 30th January 1972. And because of the education system in Britain during the 70s and 80s we were never taught about the conflict in Northern Ireland, its roots or any of the major events which happened although I clearly remember watching the news and hearing of the latest act of terrorism. As such I cannot say whether "Bloody Sunday" sticks to the facts or not or whether it is one side or not.
What I will say is that "Bloody Sunday" is an interesting movie with an interesting style, a fly on the wall documentary style as if someone had been filming the events at the time and what we are watching is the edited version as we see things going on as Cooper tries to organize a peaceful march whilst at the same time the British military preparing to hit any trouble hard with it coming across as if they were spoiling for a fight and just looking for an excuse to exact some sort of revenge. But it is a style which isn't going to appeal to everyone and so whilst it is an effective style for dramatizing the events of that day the hand held style, the people talking over each other and the general humdrum of noise is at times hard going.
But it is a style which leads to an authentic feel which is also what you get with a lot of those appearing in this movie not being actors. It makes it much more natural with just the right number of recognizable actors to take the lead parts with James Nesbitt doing a very good job of playing the central role but keep his performance in check so whilst professional not over the top for the fly on the wall styling.
What this all boils down to is that "Bloody Sunday" is extremely effective at showing what happened on that day in 1972 and feels authentic as if we are watching documentary footage filmed on that day. But whilst it is highly effective I will say that the documentary styling won't suit everyone and the fly on the wall nature of it might end up too much for some movie lovers.