The Irish are known for their great writers, poets and story-tellers. Perhaps the best description of the Irish personality comes from the popular historian Carl Wittke: “The so-called Irish temperament is a mixture of flaming ego, hot temper, stubbornness, great personal charm and warmth, and a wit that shines through adversity. An irrepressible buoyancy, a vivacious spirit, a kindliness and tolerance for the common frailties of man.” All of these combine to make it all the more surprising that no one has ever before done a film before about the 1916 Easter Rising, “It’s the perfect medium for looking at the Irish story,” according to filmmaker Kevin McCann who is currently in pre-production of “The Rising” which tells that story. He too finds that void of Irish story telling about the rising to be strangely missing from historical Irish films that include Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson in the Neil Jordan movie which was made 20 years ago.
The 1916 Easter Rising was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week 1916 mounted by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798. So why hasn’t this story ever been captured on screen before?
“Well, there’s a couple of things,” McCann told Hollywood on the Potomac. “The 1916 Easter Rising was between the famine Ireland and free Ireland. It was a moment when the 1,000 or 1,500 men and women who were essentially enslaved by an empire, decided to rebel and it wasn’t a popular move at the time in the country. By the time they were executed the rebellion had lasted six years; and when they were executed, Ireland was never the same again. Within a few years, there was a new Irish Republic and it all stems from those actions of men and women who were influenced most by what happened in the United States and in what Washington did. They had a Proclamation of Independence which was very influenced by the Declaration of Independence here in the States, and they saw that here is a country that’s free from the British Empire and thought maybe we can do the same.”