Irish Film Institute -Michael Collins

Michael Collins

Director: Neil Jordan

An icon of Irish history, Michael Collins’ (Liam Neeson) life as a revolutionary becomes cinema in Neil Jordan’s historical epic. Retrenching after the failure of the 1916 Rising, Michael Collins sees its hero develop an army of street assassins whose guerilla tactics, after many violent reprisals, bring the British Empire to the negotiating table. Disputes with political leader Eamon De Valera (Alan Rickman) and a romantic tangle with his closest friend Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn) over Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts) overshadow the achievement of a peace treaty whose divisive qualities leads to Civil War and Collins’ death. Employing a stylised history that draws on crime films such as The Godfather in imagining the War of Independence and Civil War as being gang warfare, Michael Collins proved controversial on release. The debates it inspired, which often saw political figures offer an opinion, demonstrate not only the sensitivity of the topic, but the openness with which Jordan portrayed a violent political struggle.

Golden Lion Award at the 53rd Venice Film Festival 1996.
Volpi Cup Award for Best Actor (Liam Neeson) at the 53rd Venice Film Festival 1996.

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