Friday, June 3, 2011

Wonderland: The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching, BBC Two

Not long after the Good Friday Agreement, BBC Northern Ireland broadcast a charming drama featuring a tale of two drums. An Ulster Protestant was too wedded to the marching season to join his wife on holiday in Donegal, so she wrought her revenge by destroying his bass drum and replacing it with its Catholic antithesis, a bodhrán. If last night’s The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching is any indication, that won’t be happening on the Shankhill Road any time soon. The drum, still clattered with percussive insistence by Protestant bandsmen, remains a powerful conduit for loyalty to Queen and crown.
After (almost all) the paramilitaries have laid down their weapons, what remains of the Troubles are memories (and of course a dirty great partition wall down the middle of Belfast). Fervent murals celebrate the fallen, which tourists flop out of taxis to capture on digital cameras before returning to placid homes where the past is very much in the past.

'This was a film about how a community suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder protects its culture while suppressing its memories'

"This is me uncle Stevie,” said Jordan, a plump pleasant boy with red hair and freckles a year or so off from puberty. The lens pointed to the portrait filling an end-of-terrace. “He died in ah think it was 2000 or somethin’? He’s my daddy’s brother. I think he was a military commander. That’s what it says up there.” He was asked if he knew what that meant. “I don't know. I don’t know how he died either.” Another mural depicted the Maze’s infamous H block. It turns out Jordan’s daddy Jackie had done time there. People were sent there, explained Jackie, for “murders, bombings, shooting. Different things”. Different things with the same outcome.

Wonderland: The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching, BBC Two - The Arts Desk | reviews, news, interviews

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