Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
The Troubles hardly seems an appropriate term for decades of religiously and politically motivated violence in Northern Ireland — too fleeting, inconsequential, forgettable. None of its incidents, such as 1972’s Bogside Massacre, could be so easily disremembered.
Neither could the immediacy and impact of Bloody Sunday — Paul Greengrass’s 2002 docudrama that derived its title from another name for the slaying of 13 protesting Irishmen by the British army and the wounding of many more.
British troops had aggressive apprehension tactics in mind from the outset. Factions of a “placid” civil-rights march broke off to bombard troops with stones. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) lay in waiting, eagerly recruiting glassy-eyed survivors of the massacre over to their persuasively terroristic cause.
Greengrass condemns Brits — unable to discern activism from aggression, rehearsing cover-ups and emboldening further violence against their country.
Yet he also confronts the sad, but true, notion that no country such as Northern Ireland could productively, peacefully combat internment when fractured itself — between the IRA and politically minded civil-rights activists like Parliament member Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt, in a melancholy, ultimately powerless performance).
Fade-outs and fade-ins leading up to bloodshed allow for pauses, reflections and considerations of the connotations of British and Irish actions. Time has offered perspective, investigation (with new reports to surface this year) and pop-culture outlets (U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” played in harsher live form over end credits). But Greengrass’s film spoke to how reason meant absolutely nothing when rage reigned on either side of the line.