A rare and welcome opportunity to enjoy two early documentary works that marked Pat Collins for greatness: Talking to the Dead is a haunting, elliptical portrait of the Irish funeral tradition, while his directorial debut Michael Hartnett – A Necklace of Wrens examines the life and times of the controversial poet.
The former showcases Collins’ adeptness at offering fresh insight into our native rituals, the latter his ability to get under the skin of the most enigmatic and inscrutable of individuals – in this case the spiky, Limerick-born bard oft described as Munster’s de facto poet laureate, who once renounced the English language to write as Gaeilge only. Viewed together, they form a remarkable template for the films to come.
It should be noted that both films were shot (beautifully, at that) by the cinematographer Donal Gilligan, a key early Collins collaborator who passed away in 2010 at the tragically young age of 46.
This film is screening as part of the IFI’s season, Poetic Truths: The Cinema of Pat Collins (August 4th – 21st).