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Michael Collins’- 20th Anniversary Special Review


Release Date: 25 October 1996 [USA]
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Neil Jordan
Cast: Liam Neeson - Aidan Quinn - Julia Roberts



Sound & Music



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Posted March 24, 2016 by

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Michael Collins Review:

Beginning in Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising, we witness the rise, fall and impact of Michael Collins during the fight for Irish independence from the British Empire and the subsequent struggle with forsaken comrades during the Irish Civil War.

Watching Liam Neeson sink his teeth into the titular role is startling, entertaining and energetically impressive, sad now that he is known for half-baked action men. Collin’s relationship with Aidan Quinn’s Harry has not lost any of its endearment or tragedy, outshining by miles the feeble love mix involving Julia Roberts’ Kitty Kiernan. Despite a weakly written character, her performance is still praiseworthy. More praiseworthy still are the numerous bit parts played with gusto from Ian Hart, Stephen Rea, Seán McGinley and Gerard McSorley. A contentious point remains in the film’s portrayal of Eamon De Valera (late, great Alan Rickman) where he is painted unfairly and inaccurately as a scheming antagonist.

The simplification of the history helps the film as well as hindering it in places. Director Jordan did not want the minutia of events to complicate the plot for international audiences. This creative choice gives the movie more broad appeal. People who want a ripping good period drama, regardless of political and national leanings, enjoy this film.

There is something deliciously old-fashioned about Michael Collins. The performances, the script, the relationships are romantically stylised. The framing and lighting at times is pure film noir. Then there is Elliot Goldenthal’s score.

Michael Collins has a grand and furious pace, maintained by the breakneck editing, passionate direction and thrilling music. Goldenthal’s score could have come from some massive Hollywood sword and sandals epic of the 1950’s. Here, coupled with scenes of Godfather-style assassinations and farewell kisses on a steam train platform, the memories are mighty and beautiful.

Michael Collins is a new classic, an imprecise yet exhilarating piece of film history. Experiencing Neil Jordan’s biopic, powerful enough on the small screen, is something to behold with all the strength of the cinema experience, made even more impactful on the centenary of the Easter Rebellion.


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Michael Keyes
Silences Band
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