The Oscar®* and BAFTA nominated film is directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Mona Lisa, Interview With A Vampire) and stars Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Taken films), Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven) and Alan Rickman (Harry Potter films, Die Hard) in a thrilling biopic that won Liam Neeson the Best Actor prize at the Evening Standard British Film Awards for his towering title role as the Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins. With a cast including Brendan Gleeson, Charles Dance, Ian Hart and Stephen Rea, a haunting score featuring Sinead O’Connor and masterful camerawork by Chris Menges, this is a film Time Out called writer/director Neil Jordan’s “most ambitious and satisfying movie”.
*1997 (69thAnnual Academy Awards) BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Chris Menges [nominated] BEST MUSIC, ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE Elliott Goldenthal [nominated]
Director Neil Jordan had this to say about the film at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival:
The film Michael Collins was released twenty years ago, conceived and made in the years leading up to that, and it was probably inevitable that it would reflect the state of Ireland, North and South, during those years as much as the turbulent years, 1916 – 1922, upon which it was based. I had made two “Troubles” films, before that point – Angel, and The Crying Game. Both dealt with the persistence – and the awfulness – of the presence of violence in Irish political dialogue. Michael Collins became the third and was to deal with the figure who perfected the use of violence as a political weapon. It was to be a large budget picture, for Warner Bros., and as such, I had to define for myself what that curious genre “historical film” meant. I decided to pare back the historical context, the characters, the events and construct the drama around one character, who used violence for political ends and, having achieved what he could of those ends, attempted, and failed, to decommission the guerilla army he had built. There was a ready made template for that kind of film – the gangster epic, which provided an endurable form, from Howard Hawk’s Scarface to Brian de Palma’s version, from every James Cagney iteration, through the Godfather films. The arc of the central character becomes that of a fatal engagement with some kind of violence. So Michael Collins became a biopic and a gangster epic. That, and the parallels to the decommissioning process that was going on at the time gave rise to much acrimonious debate when we were making the film and during its subsequent release. I didn’t mind that debate, however uncomfortable it became, since films should be about something. It was always to be a film about violence and its consequences. And, about an issue that, in 2016, twenty years on again, seems to thankfully to belong to the past, and not to the present.