May 2011 Update: Obama in Ireland. His trip was largely overshadowed by the Arab Spring coupled with his provocative foreign policy fracas over Israel. So, oddly, in this year’s context, Ireland seems like a place to get away from politics. Ireland, however, is actually a country that takes its politics as seriously as its music. There are two recent films that have told very tough tales of Irish history. Here is our original Smackdown.
Every St. Patrick’s Day, people worldwide celebrate the Irish by wearing shamrocks, marching in parades, even drinking green beer. It can be a ton of fun, to be sure, but the Ireland of fairly recent history was a very serious place where political battles were decided in revolution and civil war. Our Irish Movie Smackdown pays tribute to those days by putting a couple of films in the ring together that tell the story. These two classic films of Irish-rebellion — The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Michael Collins — were made a decade apart. Back in the Clinton years, Liam Neeson starred in the title role as Irish rebel turned Free Stater, Michael Collins, and a few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2007, Cillian Murphy played a rebel on the other side of the bloody Irish Civil War in The Wind That Shakes the Barley. They each tell stories about the years when Irish eyes were definitely not smiling… […]
It’s been years, but if you close your eyes, all those horrific images are still with you. Both of these 9/11 films were released in 2006 during the run-up to the five-year anniversary of the events of that terrible day. At the time critics kept wringing their hands about whether or not it was too early to tell these stories. Looking back, the better question could easily have been what took so long? Making films is how we increasingly begin to process events like these. It doesn’t have to trivialize them or make them less important, although that can be the danger.
We’ll use box office stats to name our opponents. With that as the standard, World Trade Center becomes our champ with 163-million dollars worldwide. United 93 comes in as the challenger with only 76-million dollars. But, especially when it comes to material like this, the box office is only a point of reference and nothing more. Let’s say that you have the heart to re-live 9/11 on film with just one of them as we approach the 10th anniversary with Osama Bin Laden finally having paid with his own life. Which film should you watch? […]