The Treaty (1991 TV Movie)
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The second reason I found it interesting is that it is an object lesson on how negotiations work. There is of course an inevitable comparison with Neil Jordan's epic "Michael Collins". In terms of budget, actors and drama "The Treaty" does not come close. However in terms of historical accuracy and educational value this is a far superior film. I found Jordan's film was far too coloured by his views on the Northern Ireland conflict. He took too much liberty with the historical facts. Watch "The Treaty" and you will learn far more about the events and people of the time.
Brendan Gleason's portrayal of Collins seems far more reliable and realistic than the one done by Liam Neeson. Gleason's Collins, far from being a "yob from West Cork" is revealed as an intelligent, realistic individual who was well able to hold his own in the company of the British cabinet as well as the sophisticated guests at a dramatized dinner party held by Hazel, Lady Lavery.
Some of the other performances a very good as well. I especially like Ian Bannen's foxy Lloyd George and the late Tony Doyle's portrayal of Arthur Griffith. As an aside about historical accuracy. Griffith was the actual leader of the Irish delegation, as shown here. The Neil Jordan movie incorrectly implies that Collins himself was the leader.
So, if Hollywood fiction and romantic interest are your cup of tea, by all means watch the Neil Jordan movie. But if you really want to learn something about the reasons things are the way they are, try to find a copy of this film. This won't be easy as it doesn't seem to exist in any commercailly available edition. My own copy was taped from a TV broadcast. I hope that one day it will be available for purchase.
Comparisons with Neil Jordan's epic big budget Michael Collins are inevitable - so here goes! The Treaty is not only much more accurate in terms of events but also in terms of characterisation. The portrayal of Michael Collins by Brendan Gleeson is excellent and comes very close to what the historical Michael Collins was like. Liam Neeson's portrayal in Neil Jordan's film by contrast made Collins a little too 'nice' and emphasised Collins' moral qualms. Rightly or wrongly I don't think Collins had moral qualms about his actions. He certainly didn't express many in public. Credit also to the actor (I don't know his name) who portrayed Cathal Brugha. The quiet menace he showed was again much closer to the historical character than the somewhat hysterical portrayal in Jordan's film. The late Tony Doyle also plays Arthur Griffith very well (Griffith is justifiably given a higher place in this film than in Michael Collins). Also good was Barry McGovern's portrayal of DeValera.
In short, the film Michael Collins is a good yarn but looking at the comment pages about how much people 'learned' from it makes me suggest they'd learn a lot more by watching the Treaty.
The Treaty is low budget and originally made for TV so don't expect an epic scale or special effects. It is however, well done throughout. One slight negative (Spoiler Alert) is the one occasion where the film depicted ordinary people, which veered close to stereotype.
That said, if you want to learn about this period of Irish history in a manner that is accurate and leaves you to decide for yourself the moral and historical issues involved then I would unhesitatingly recommend the Treaty. I give it 9/10.
I would agree with the views expressed that The Treaty is an historically accurate although dramatised account of events that led to the situation we have today.
Maybe I have a biased viewpoint but I think the character of Michael Collins dominates this too much. This drama focuses on the treaty negotiations and more could have been made of the of the split between Collins, Griffith and Duggan who were in favour of the treaty and Barton and Childers who were against, particularly as the division was referred to early on.
Nonetheless, far better than "Michael Collins"!
It would take a 10 part series to properly include all the intrigue, side deals, secret meetings, and counter-intelligence involved in that short period of time. This film does well in giving the essence, if not the details, of the time.
Unlike other shows about the War of Independence, in which only about 2000 people died, this movie let us know how justified the War was, by giving us a potted insight into the Irish and British minds. Whereas the idea of stopping the War was portrayed as a disgrace for a bunch of well-fed and well-bred British politicians, the consequence of which would be a few lost votes in Parliament, the idea of losing the War for the Irish was met with such hostility that the clever Irish leaders were looked upon as traitors - an idea that led directly to the more costly Civil War...
The Civil War should not have been (Collins was killed, in case you didn't know), but to watch the boys 'at the top' argue who should live, and for what reason, made watching this show a thrill.
Jordan's Michael Collins passed over Collins' role in the negotiations that created the Itish Free State, although it did reference it. Jordan picked the story up again with Collins' return from England and the rejection of the treaty by the die-hard Republicans as the prelude to the Civil War that cost Collins his life. The Treaty goes a long way to explaining how the divisive situation came about.
I taped The Treaty from TV and have viewed it over and over. I would really love to see it issued as a DVD.