Neil Jordan's historical biopic of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, the man who led a guerrilla war against the UK, helped negotiate the creation of the Irish Free State, and led the National Army during the Irish Civil War.
During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.
In 1920, rural Ireland is the vicious battlefield of republican rebels against the British security forces and Irish Unionist population who oppose them, a recipe for mutual cruelty. Medical graduate Damien O'Donovan always gave priority to his socialist ideals and simply helping people in need. Just when he's leaving Ireland to work in a highly reputed London hospital, witnessing gross abuse of commoners changes his mind. he returns and joins the local IRA brigade, commanded by his brother Teddy, and adopts the merciless logic of civil war, while Teddy mellows by experiencing first-hand endless suffering. When IRA leaders negotiate an autonomous Free State under the British crown, Teddy defends the pragmatic best possible deal at this stage. Damien however joins the large seceding faction which holds nothing less than a socialist republic will do. The result is another civil war, bloodily opposing former Irish comrades in arms, even the brothers. Written by
An exciting piece of Ken Loach drama based on events that sparked the Irish war of independence. Despite being labelled 'anti-British' by critics born 60 years after these events took place, the incidents depicted in this film have in fact all been documented by the British government and are a matter of historical fact. Events such as the treatment of the local population at the brutal hands of the infamous convict drafted Black and tans force have all been recorded assiduously by both sides in the conflict. And the civil war that followed a decision to allow the mostly protestant north to be a part of the new British welfare state. A clash of ideals, deftly handled by Loach, it's a real pity that so many will have their minds made up before they've even seen the film.
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