Michael Collins is a 1996 historical biopic written and directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson as General Michael Collins, the Irish patriot and revolutionary who died in the Irish Civil War.It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival
Although based on historical events, the film does contain some alterations and fictionalizations such as the death of Harry Boland. Boland did not die in the manner suggested by the film. He was shot in a skirmish with Irish Free State soldiers in The Grand Hotel, Skerries, North Co. Dublin during the Battle of Dublin. The hotel has since been demolished but a plaque was put where the building used to be. His last words in the film - "Have they got Mick Collins yet?" - are however, based on a well-known tradition
The film flashes back to the end of the Easter Rising in 1916, as Collins (Neeson), Harry Boland (Quinn), Éamon de Valera (Rickman), and other survivors surrender to the British Army. As the Dublin Metropolitan Police's "G" Division identifies the leaders, Collins tells Boland that next time, "We won't play by their rules, Harry. We'll invent our own." All the other leaders die by firing squad, but de Valera, an American citizen, is imprisoned in Britain. Collins, Boland, and the others are sent to Frongoch internment camp.
After his release, Collins runs for a seat in the First Dáil. While giving a speech, the rally is attacked by the Royal Irish Constabulary. Collins is severely beaten, but is rescued by Boland. While recovering on a friend's farm, they meet Kitty, who begins a romance with Boland.
Collins is tipped off by Detective Ned Broy (Rea) that the British plan to arrest de Valera and his Cabinet. However, de Valera forbids anyone to go into hiding, stating that the ensuing public outcry will force their immediate release. Only Collins and Boland escape arrest and imprisonment, and there are no protests.
Left in command, Collins orders the IRA to begin raiding police barracks for weapons. He also issues a statement that all collaboration with the British will be punished by death. Collins then recruits a squad from the IRA's Dublin Brigade, which, on Bloody Sunday, assassinates fourteen members of MI5's Cairo Gang. In retaliation, the Black and Tans fire into the crowd at a Gaelic football match at Croke Park. Broy is caught burning documents and killed.
Later, Boland and Collins travel to Britain and break de Valera out of Lincoln prison. Angry that Collins has overshadowed him, de Valera announces that he will travel to the United States to seek recognition from Woodrow Wilson, and orders Boland to accompany him. Before they depart, Collins informs Boland that de Valera fears leaving them alone together.
After returning, de Valera decrees that the IRA must attack The Custom House. Collins argues that fighting conventionally will allow the British to win, but the Irish Cabinet votes to support de Valera. The attack fails catastrophically, leaving six men dead and seventy captured. In the aftermath, Collins declares that the IRA can only hold out for a month. In private, he tells Boland that the IRA will be lucky to hold out for another week. To his shock, however, the British soon call for a cease fire.
Collins is ordered to London to participate in negotiations with the British, despite objecting that he is not a diplomat. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, de Valera erupts upon learning that the terms have been published without his agreement. Collins argues that the Treaty gives them the freedom to achieve the Republic.
De Valera and his supporters resign in protest after the Dáil approves the Treaty by 64-57. Both Collins and de Valera try to sway the Irish people in their respective directions. Collins is attacked by an anti-Treaty Republican during a rally, but escapes. In the aftermath, he asks Kitty Kiernan to marry him and she accepts.
When the people vote to approve the Treaty, de Valera refuses to accept the results and orders the IRA to seize the Four Courts in Dublin. Ordered by the Cabinet to retake the Four Courts, Collins is appalled at having to fight former comrades. Arthur Griffith, however, informs him that, if the Irish Free State Army will not deal with the IRA, the British Army will. In the subsequent Battle of Dublin, the IRA is driven from the city. Despite Collins' attempts to capture him, Boland is shot by a sentry while trying to swim the Liffey.
Devastated by Boland's death, Collins travels to County Cork. He reaches out to de Valera through an intermediary, asking for a peace conference. Without de Valera's knowledge, the intermediary informs Collins that de Valera will meet him at Béal na mBláth the following day. As a convoy of Irish Army vehicles approaches, IRA men open fire from a nearby hillside. Collins is shot and killed. Kitty is informed of his death just after trying on her wedding gown.
Completing his story, O'Reilly tells Kitty that Collins would not want her to mourn as long as she has.
The film ends with a montage of footage from Collins' funeral. A eulogy states that, although a career soldier, Collins died in a failed effort to remove the gun from Irish politics.