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Friday, June 24, 2011

263. The Pipe

    I do worry that everyfilmin2011 might be bad for my mental health.
    But it's not the pressure of meeting deadlines or sitting in front of a screen for hours on end which is likely to send me doolally.
    No, my mind is far too occupied with the injustice which has been recorded in a glut of top-class documentaries.
    The Pipe was sent to me by its writer and director Richie O'Donnell who spent four years on the project.
    It was briefly in cinemas in the UK earlier this year and was shown on More 4 last week. I think it's available  on 4OD now but Richie says it can be bought on DVD.
    And I would certainly recommend seeing it.
    As said, he highlights superbly the way that major corporations (in this case Shell) care little for the lives of ordinary folk while pursuing their profits.
    Shell wants to lay a pipeline off the west coast of Ireland and run it to a refinery 9km inland.
    The proposal has met with fierce and focused resistance from a community who have been previously content to live off the land and sea.
    Indeed, five of them spent three months in jail for their part in protests.
    It is the ordinariness of the dissidents which makes The Pipe such a compelling story.
    One farmer shows us how to find shellfish deep beneath the sand one minute and is leading a rally the next.
    Another battler is a fisherman. To see his tiny boat pitted against Shell's huge pipelaying vessel is real David and Goliath stuff.
    The most insidious part of the whole Shell action is just how easily the company enlisted the support of the Irish government and, consequently, the police.
    There are echoes of the British miners' strike in the way the community has been ripped apart by the presence of Shell.
    Police officers who are on first name terms with locals are seen pushing, shoving and even taking their batons to them.
    O'Donnell has conjured a very effective film. The cinematography shows the west coast in all its beauty and demonstrates what is at stake. He chooses no narration, instead allowing the protestors to make their point with their own voices.
    However, I felt that he missed a trick by not having a counterbalance.
    I know Shell would not cooperate with the making of the movie but I wanted to hear from the Irish government and/or a Garda spokesman to hear an explanation of their positions.
    So, did The Pipe leave me even more depressed?
    Well, yes and no. I hate the power which companies like Shell wield and the complicity of governments in their work.
    But the people of the small communities in western Ireland proved that there is still a voice for ordinary people who are willing to fight their corner. Their efforts were truly uplifting.
    As for The Pipe's rating...8/10.

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263. The Pipe


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