The movie Michael Collins, describes the short but influential life and times of Michael Collins, and Irish insurgent turned politician from the early twentieth century. The basic premise of the storyline is that Michael Collins, an insurgent, is working on a committee headed by the overthrown President of Ireland De Valera and is asked by the President to assist in returning Ireland to an independent State after a political take over by England.
During this process, Michael Collins becomes the vigilante and hero of the insurgent movement because of his anonymity and his ability to mobilize and create an army of patriotic Irishmen to take out a vigilante type of assault against the British political machine in place in Ireland. As the story continued, Michael Collins finds himself being manipulated by the President he has shown tremendous allegiance towards when he is asked to attend a treaty meeting in Britain. At this point in the story, Michael Collins is forced to forgo his anonymity and to become a political leader for peace. After negotiating a peaceful treaty agreement, the president he once so admired forms a counter insurgency against him and hence the civil war in Ireland began. The final outcome following the death of Michael Collins and the restoration of De Valera as president of the Irish Republic.
The overall point of this film is to depict Michael Collins as the hero of Ireland’s quest for autonomy from England and to show that despite being called a vigilante and murderer his first love was always Ireland. The also makes it clears that Michael Collins character was a tender and loving man who always kept his “soldiers” and fellow countrymen in mind.
Cinematic technique in this film was simple yet effective. The use of music and sounds of time were used to relieve some of the tension brought on by more serious scenes depicting cold point blank murders. The light used in this film was dim and gray when war scenes and combat exchanges were made. Warmer lighting was used whenever Michael Collins was with a group of comrades or his love and enjoying life outside of the insurgency. Many overhead panoramic shots were used to show the expanse of the military while close ups were used mostly when the insurgents were killing their British rivals. This technique enabled the director to showcase the harsh realities of murdering someone unexpectedly. As the film continued high angle shots were used to depict murder scenes of key characters relaying to the audience the distance those involved in the old insurgency had from those who represented the new counter insurgency.
The nature of the Irish insurgency was to restore Ireland’s independence from England and to restore their democratic party and the restore the President to his rightful place as leader of a free Ireland without ties to England. The insurgency, as seen through the eyes of President De Valera, was to achieve freedom through political bargaining and through large-scale military campaigns. On the other hand, Michael Collins was not a fan of larger military campaigns because he felt the risk and loss associated with larger scaled campaigns would prove ineffective over the long run.
Eventually, the guerilla warfare tactics used by Michael Collins, without the permission of the President, were effective in paving the way for the eventually treaty between Ireland and England despite the cold nature of the mafia type tactics he implied. His “boys” were considered vigilante hit men. They blew up cars and killed British politicians and military leaders in their homes during other day-to-day activities. They wore suits as opposed to fatigues or military gear. They often used fires as a defensive and offensive tactic. The counter insurgency was a politically concerned movement, which used more subversive tactics while keeping in mind the political implications of all of their moves. Overall, this film was successful at providing outsiders and inside look at the patriotism of the Irish people and the oppression that they experienced under British rule.