The Easter Rising on film


The famous event on the silver screen and a new movie in the offing.

The Easter Rising of 1916 was intended to be a dramatic event. The soldiers of the Republic declared in 1916 in Dublin took over the city centre openly and in uniform. Grand sounding proclamations of Irish independence were posted on the city walls and the rebel flags hosted over public buildings.

By the time the Rising was launched, with no hope of German aid and with only around 1,500 Volunteers mobilised it had no realistic hope of military success. What they could do though was demonstrate in the most dramatic fashion possible that Irishmen were willing to die for Irish freedom – a fact hammered home by the executions of 14 of the Rising’s leaders within two weeks of their surrender. The moral and propaganda impact of the event on subsequent Irish history was to be enormous.

It seems surprising in a way that such a theatrical event has never had a full length film devoted to it. It seems in many ways a perfect cinematic story, concentrated in space and time, five days in central Dublin and filled full of the classic elements of epic stories, heroism, loss, tragedy, betrayal and rebirth.

So it was with pleasure that word reached the Irish Story of plans for a new feature film based on the Rising. Even more pleasing was the fact that the story would be told from the perspective of Sean MacDiarmada, a long neglected figure, who we have argued here before was central to an understanding of the Rising and the the Irish Republican Brotherhood in general.

The film is the brainchild of Cavan and Belfast based Kevin McCann, whose company Maccana Teoranta backed by the Northern Ireland Screen film board, will be starting filming in 2015. McCann argues that, ‘the events of Easter Week 1916 still resonate through Irish life today and it would be an act of cultural delinquency if we were to allow the centenary of these seminal events to pass by without telling the story in cinema’.

The Easter Rising has been depicted surprisingly few times in cinema. A new film produced and directed by Kevin McCann hopes to change that.

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