Portrayal of Republican violence in Neil Jordan's Michael Collins

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15. How does Collins justify the use of violence? Does the viewer accept this justification? In order to discuss in detail the portrayal of Collin’s views on violence in the motion picture, it is necessary to expand on the overall representation of violence present in the film. Jordan's film is ambiguous and contradictory in its attitude towards republican violence, but it is this very ambiguity which allows Jordan to reconcile the widely felt need for a heroic past with the longing for peace in the present. In Michael Collins there is a sense that violence has inescapably tragic consequences. Collins develops the tactics of guerrilla warfare and uses these tactics with great success, but then things escape from his control. He tries to call a halt to the violence, but is killed in the end by his own methods. However, if the overall narrative of Michael Collins suggests that violence has tragic consequences, the film does not repudiate republican violence. At one point Collins says "War is murder. Sheer bloody murder", and the assassinations carried out on Collins's orders are depicted in all their casual brutality. The story of Collins is another instance of the theme of violence spinning out of control; as Jordan says in his film diary, published with the screenplay, the film shows both "the exhilaration of violence, [and] the grotesque conclusions of its outcome".# It is not only the tragedy of the story which implies the need for an end to violence, however; Collins himself is depicted as a reluctant warrior who wants peace. He declares his belief in the future in a sequence which intercuts between Collins and his fiancée, Kitty Kiernan, in a hotel room, and Collins's assassination squad executing British intelligence agents. "You've sent your boys out, haven't you?" asks Kitty. "It's written on your face. Every step they take. Like so many valentines.
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