The Treaty (TV Movie 1991) Poster

(1991 TV Movie)

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Infinitely better than 'Michael Collins'
clonion19 November 2002
For those who are interested in modern Irish history - this is for you. It gives the details of the Treaty which ended the War of Independence between Ireland and Britain, which, dry though it sounds, is interesting. It has been well scripted, and superbly acted. It is ironic to consider that here, Brendan Gleeson plays Michael Collins, and in 'Michael Collins'(1996) only the sidekick. Liam Neeson doesn't do the character justice, Brendan Gleeson does. He looks a lot like Michael Collins, and from eyewitness accounts, behaves a lot like him as well. Another interesting point about this film is that it is almost all factually accurate (my sole quibble would be the interplay between Michael Collins and Lloyd-George's wife (I hope that's correct, its a while since I have seen it, sorry if it's wrong)) If you are going to rely on a film for historical accuracy, then please use this as opposed 'Michael Collins'
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Watch this and you might learn something
poc-12 September 2003
This is a historical drama about the treaty negotiation of 1921 that founded the Irish Free State in 1922, later to become the Republic of Ireland. I found it fascinating for two reasons. Firstly it is striking how the two parties locked horns over words and issues which are totally irrelevant today. The importance of the oath of allegiance to the King and the notion that Ireland remain part of the "empire". How stupid it all was looking back. The really important parts, about protecting the rights of minorities and avoiding civil war, seem to be only minor issues to both sides. The Irish Nationalists were obsessed "Irish Freedom" and the British with their "Empire".

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.
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A Free State
busterkeaton1173126 April 2005
Brendan Gleason seems to come closer to the image of Michael Collins I got from reading Tim Pat Coogan's biography of the Irish leader then Liam Neeson's turn in Niel Jordan's biopic.While this film,an RTE/BBC co-production didn't have anywhere near the budget of Jordan's film it's producers did a first rate job none the less.The acting is quite good,and the resemblance of Ian Bannen to David Lloyd-George is remarkable!The discussion he has with DeValera about the translation of the Irish word "phoblacht" is interesting,as Lloyd-George was a Welshman,a Celtic group who've managed to keep THEIR Gaelic tongue alive and kicking.All in all while this film hasn't the big screen glamor of "Michael Collins",it is less about the legend of the "Big Fellow", and much closer to the real man.Anyone interested in how modern Ireland came to be should see this film.
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Thoughtful look at how we ended up where we are
mmduffy7 March 2004
I agree completely with the reviewer from Cork that this is a fascinating movie. It's a dramatization of the agonizing negotiations that led to the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. This is a subject that is pretty much jumped over in the Neil Jordan film "Michael Collins" but which lies at the heart of the current divisions in Ireland. As a result of these negotiations came the bitter Irish civil war and the partition of the island that has caused so much grief in the years since. If you listen you will note the manipulation of events by the principal characters (especially DeValera and Lloyd George) and the betrayals, small and large,and the failure of promises made that led to the divided Ireland of the years since.

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.
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Well Worth Watching If You Like History!
Bubba Newman9 February 2006
There are several areas of history I enjoy . . . the Irish struggle for freedom is one of them. I found this film to be both educational and entertaining. I voted 8/10 for that reason, not for technical brilliance or visual quality. While well done, this movie would not hold up against the higher-quality Hollywood movies as far as visual richness is concerned. That said, the movie holds a place of honor in my library. It might be difficult to find if you want to buy or rent it, but it is worth the effort. Surprisingly, the movie stars a couple actors well known in the States -- Ian Bannen and Brendan Gleeson (who just had a major part in the latest Harry Potter offering.) If you like history, or if you want to know some of the history of the IRA or the Irish / British battle, see this movie!
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Excellent and Accurate
gcasey7528 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with the general consensus on this site. The treaty is an excellent, historically accurate dramatisation of the negotiations that led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.

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.
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Very good but...
bigbadbear6929 September 2014
As a member of my family (Robert Barton) was one of the Irish negotiators of the treaty, I tracked this down and watched it a few nights ago on YouTube.

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"!
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For Further Collins Info
fenianbritt28 July 2010
I purchased the DVD through the Collins 22 Society on the web. I think both Neeson and Gleeson portrayed Collins well. Gleeson was lucky enough to work with writers who portrayed Collins' intellectual side better. It's hinted at in "Michael Collins." The list of noteworthy Irish and British actors is impressive, and Doyle is excellent as the leader (as said in an earlier post--yes, Griffith was the leader) of the delegation.

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.
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Gleeson was born for this role
dieBaumfabrik21 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
**seriously, if you don't know how the Irish War of Independence went, you shouldn't be allowed internet access.** 'The Treaty' may seem dull in comparison to Ridley Scott's badly-cast money-maker 'Michael Collins', but this movie had two well-cast stars in the meat of the affair: Gleeson and Bannen. I could rest there, but the other English and Irish characters were also well-played. Oh, such a great ensemble piece without the redundant explosions!

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.
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Any chance of this being issued on CD?
mmduffy11 March 2006
This is by far a better dramatization of Michael Collins than the Neil Jordan film. Brendan Gleeson is wonderful as Collins and even looks much like him. I found it ironic that he was still not a big enough "name" for Jordan to cast him as Collins, yet he was cast as Collins' companion on his last fatal journey home.

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.
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