1916: The Irish Rebellion full movie review - Comprehensive Account of a Landmark in Irish History
Narrated by Liam Neeson, this documentary - either available as three parts or as an 85-minute long film - identifies the origins of the 1916 Rebellion in the independence movements of the late eighteenth century.
Both the American War of Independence and the French Revolution helped lay the foundations for the desire for colonized nations to free themselves from the imperialist yoke and strike out on their own.
In Ireland this spirit was fueled by the perception that the British government were not really interested in their welfare. This was especially evident during the Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s, when thousands of people died or emigrated to the United States. Once they arrived there, they were imbued by the "can-do" spirit, which helped them strengthen the movement towards independence.
Ruan Magan's documentary told a familiar tale, one already retold in several programs broadcast to mark the 100th anniversary of the uprising. What distinguished it from others was its use of fascinating archive footage plus interviews with some of the protagonists who were actually there at the time. Listening to first-hand reminiscences made us aware of how the Rebellion was viewed: for the Irish Nationalists it represented a chance to assert themselves, but for ordinary citizens it was viewed as something of an unnecessary imposition, especially when so many people died as a result of the conflict.
As with many documentaries, EASTER 1916 contained a slew of expert opinions from academics in Ireland, the United States, and Great Britain. While they offered trenchant and often articulate views, the overriding impression of this documentary was the importance of the Rebellion as a "bottom-up" revolt; the expression of the will of ordinary people. The British rulers' reaction - to execute all the leaders at the earliest possible opportunity - was perceived as excessive, and had the effect of increasing support for the rebels.
The Rebellion was one of the first among Britain's colonies, and helped pave the way for independence movements worldwide. That represents its true significance historically; the event ushered in a new view of history where governments depended not on a foreign power but on the people themselves, who at last had the chance to choose their own rulers.