A reconstruction of the life of the woman usually described as Robert Emmet’s housekeeper, and again starring Bríd Brennan, Anne Devlin reflects another objective of the feminist movement; that of the retrieval of forgotten women’s voices from history. Here Anne Devlin is seen to be a young woman of ideals and good sense, who recognises Emmet (Bosco Hogan) for the impractical dreamer he is. Following her jailing by the British authorities, she falls into silence, refusing to inform on the rebels and, as her imprisonment stretches out, so her body too becomes a part of her resistance.
The film is visually austere and painterly, with a pacing that matches its subject matter; one particularly striking image sees Anne Devlin in her cell cradling her dead brother’s head in her lap in a pietà-like composition. Internationally, the production cemented Pat Murphy’s reputation as one of the leading feminist filmmakers of her day.
This film is screening as part of the IFI’s Focus on Pat Murphy (July 21st & 22nd)