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The Gun and Irish Politics

Examining National History in Neil Jordan’s 'Michael Collins'

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Raita Merivirta

In the 1990s, Irish society was changing and becoming increasingly international due to the rise of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. At the same time, the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland also fuelled debates on the definition of Irishness, which in turn seemed to call for a critical examination of the birth of the Irish State, as well as a rethinking and re-assessment of the nationalist past. Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins (1996), the most commercially successful and talked-about Irish film of the 1990s, was a timely contributor to this process. In providing a large-scale representation of the 1916-1922 period, Michael Collins became the subject of critical and popular controversy, demonstrating that cinema could play a part in this cultural reimagining of Ireland.
Locating the film in both its historical and its cinematic context, this book explores the depiction of events in Michael Collins and the film’s participation in the process of reimagining Irishness through its public reception. The portrayal of the key figures of Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera comes under special scrutiny as the author assesses this pivotal piece of Irish history on screen.

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Bibliography Primary Sources Films and Television Documentaries Michael Collins. 1996. DVD. Warner Brothers Home Video, 1997. p.c: Warner Bros Pictures Inc, p: Stephen Woolley, co-p: Redmond Morris, d/sc: Neil Jordan, dop: Chris Menges, p. co-ord: Cate Arbeid, c. op: Mike Roberts, ed: J. Patrick Duffner, Tony Lawson, p.d: Tony Pratt, super. art d: Malcolm Middleton, art. d: Arden Gantley, Martin Atkinson, Cliff Robinson, s: Kieran Horgan, cast: Susie Figgis, cost: Sandy Powell, music: Elliott Goldenthal. Liam Neeson (Michael Collins), Julia Roberts (Kitty Kiernan), Aidan Quinn (Harry Boland), Alan Rickman (Eamon de Valera), Stephen Rea (Ned Broy), Ian Hart ( Joe O’Reilly), Charles Dance (Soames), Brendan Gleeson (Tobin), Stuart Graham (Seamus Cullen), Gerard McSorley (Cathal Brugha), Jim Sheridan ( Jameson), Frank Laverty (Sean McKeoin), David Gorry (Charlie Dalton), Tom Murphy (Vinnie Byrne), Sean McGinley (Smith), Gary Whelan (Hoey), Frank O’Sullivan (Kavanagh), Jonathan Rhys Myers (the smiling youth). A Geffen Pictures release. Distributed by Warner Bros. 127 minutes. Filmed on location in Dublin during July–October 1995. Inside the Actor’s Studio: The craft of theater and film. Guest: Julia Roberts. Written by James Lipton. 1997. Irish Cinema – Ourselves Alone? Written by Kevin Rockett. Produced and directed by Donald Taylor Black. Centenary Productions in associa- tion with Poolbeg Productions for Radio Telefís Éireann with the assistance of the Irish Film Board, 1995. 174 Bibliography The South Bank Show: Michael Collins. Documentary with Neil Jordan Interview and Actual Footage of Michael Collins. London Weekend Television programme for ITV, 1996. Michael Collins DVD, Warner Home Video,...

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