Friday, July 15, 2011

Michael Collins

Michael "Mick" Collins (16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. Throughout this time, at least as of 1919, he was also President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic. Collins was shot and killed in August 1922, during the Irish Civil War.

Although most Irish political parties recognise his contribution to the foundation of the modern Irish state, supporters of Fine Gael hold his memory in particular esteem, regarding him as their movement's founding father, through his link to their precursor Cumann na nGaedheal.

More on Michael Collins here.

Writes Roger Ebert: ``Michael Collins'' paints a heroic picture of the Irish Republican Army's inspired strategist and military leader, who fought the British Empire to a standstill and invented the techniques of urban guerrilla warfare that shaped revolutionary struggles all over the world. Played by Liam Neeson in a performance charged with zest and conviction, Collins comes across as a clear.sighted innovator who took the IRA as far as it could reasonably hope to go, and then signed a treaty with the British that was, he argued ``the best we can hope for at this moment in time.'' The treaty established an Irish Free State, but it preserved the division of Ireland into north and south, and it fell short of the independent republic the IRA had been fighting for. Collins felt that additional negotiations over a period of years could eventually produce those gains; he and his comrades were weary of bloodshed.

…The movie moves confidently when it focuses on Collins and his best friend and co-strategist Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn). But it falters with the unnecessary character of Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts), who is in love with both men, and they with her. ``I was ahead by a length,'' Harry tells her in one scene. ``Now where am I?'' She shakes her head: ``It's not a race, Harry. You without him . . . him without you . . . I can't imagine it.'' The movie uses the scenes with Kitty to provide obligatory romantic interludes between war and strategy, but even though Kitty was a historical character, we never feel the scenes are necessary; they function as a sop to the audience, not as additional drama.

...Collins, who died at 31, was arguably the key figure in the struggles that led to the separation of Ireland and Britain. He was also, on the basis of this film, a man able to use violence without becoming intoxicated by it. The film argues that if he had prevailed Ireland might eventually have been united, and many lives might have been saved. We will never know.

The complete review here.

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