movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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MICHAEL COLLINS (1996)

Cast: Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Julia Roberts, Alan Rickman, Stephen Rea
Director: Neil Jordan
Producers: Redmond Morris, Stephen Woolley
Screenplay: Neil Jordan
Cinematography: Chris Menzes
Music: Elliot Goldenthal
Approximate Running Time: 132 minutes
Warning: Violence, swearing
Rating:

Alan Rickman and Liam NeesonCategory: Drama/ Real Life/History

The Plot: Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) was an Irishman who wanted Ireland to be free of British rule at the beginning of the 20th century. For years, he worked incognito behind the scenes, organizing attacks on the British. Finally after many years of bloodshed, he bought the British Empire to their knees and had to come forward to negotiate the terms of Irelands freedom. However, the compromise reached was not entirely what his allies envisioned, and his members of his own party turned against him.

Comment: Neil Jordan has done a magnificent job of bringing the life of Michael Collins to the big screen. One is swept up in the grandeur of the vision Collins must have held for a free Ireland. It is a story of intrigue, political maneuverings, incredible violence and stubbornness. Why the British have held on so tenaciously to Ireland is bit of a mystery in modern times (particularly as they seemed to so willingly give up India and Hong Kong...), but this film provides some insight into how the Irish felt about it!

Liam Neeson delivers an incredible performance as the single-minded Michael Collins. Neeson's interpretation portrays the conflicts Collins as a man who does not like or want unnecessary violence and only delivers out of necessity - how else do you get the attention of the 'blind' British? Every agonizing decision to kill key players and the lives lost on his won side are echoed in Neeson's face.

Aiden Quinn and Julia Roberts do their best to deliver their lines in passable mild Irish accents, with only occasional lapses. This in itself is admirable as the thick Irish accent isn't one the easiest to mimic! Alan Rickman is an enigmatic in the film as his character, Eoman De Valera. What must have been going through De Valera's mind when the time for negotiations came? If nothing else, the film does make you curious about the man who went on to become President of Ireland when true independence was achieved several decades later.

Michael Collins is a long, dark but fascinating look into the life of one of Ireland's key figures in history. The start is a bit slow, but perseverance reveals an illuminating film sympathetic to the Irish and Collins' cause. A must see for anyone who wonders why the violence continues in Northern Ireland to this day.

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