This disparity also relates to the opposing ways that the Irish people saw Collins. "The question is how do the Irish view Collins: as the fellow who bombed the British out of Ireland, or as the one who insisted that the bombing he started must stop? Some Irish view both Collins and De Valera as sellouts. Jordan says he means to celebrate Collins "the statesman and, ultimately, man of peace." (Shulgasser B.)
Historically it seems that the actual intentions and motivation of Michael Collins as a human being are not clearly known. The identity of Michael Collins is to a large extent shrouded in myth and contradiction. The director of the film has stated as much.
Even though Collins lived only about 75 years ago, much of the information we have about him is as mysterious as the existence he maintained. I have made choices about certain events based on my own extensive research into his letters and reported speeches. I wanted to make this story as accurate as possible without killing it dramatically and I think I have. It is a very true film. (Introduction: a foreword by Neil Jordan)
Jordan also upholds the view that Collins was not a terrorist by choice but by necessity; and that his intentions were essentially patriotic and essentially those of a man of peace.
Collins wasn't a proponent of terrorism. He developed techniques of guerilla warfare later copied by independence movements around the world, from Mao Tse-Tung in China to Yitzhak Shamir in Israel. He fought the British Empire in Ireland with the only army available to him -- the Irish Volunteers, bands of poorly armed peasants and working-class youths. Collins would never be a proponent of contemporary terrorism as practiced today. He was a soldier and a statesman and, over time, a man of peace. (Introduction: a foreword by Neil Jordan)
Possibly the most significant question that the film raises in the context of the exploration of the motivation that led Collins to use guerilla tactics, is the question of who is the real terrorist. The idea of Collins as terrorist and the IRA as a terrorist organization is put into question in the film, as well as in the factual historical events on which the film is based. This refers especially to the massacre of players and spectators at the Gaelic Football match between Dublin and Tipperary
Shortly after the start of the game, an airplane flying over the grounds dropped a red flare. Crown forces immediately surrounded the stadium, and a British officer on top of the wall fired a revolver shot. Without warning, auxiliary soldiers began firing their weapons, and a machine gun hastily set up just inside the main entrance opened fire. At first, the crowd thought the soldiers were firing blanks, but then the machine gun fire increased the volume, and people began to fall. The crowd stampeded towards the Railway wall, which was furthest from the gunfire. (Mullan D. And Mullin J.)
This historical fact suggests the possibility that the British government was at least equally guilty of immoral and unethical actions and also implies that the Irish response was not one which was out of proportion. If one studies the events of that incident in its historic context it would seem that the actions of the British government were more heinous than those of the IRA.
The victims in Croke Park, however, were not selected for who they were or what they had done; their identity was clearly secondary. Therefore, the "hallmark of terrorism" applies to Britain's murderous rampage at the football match. They fired into a crowd of football fans to inflict collective punishment for Collins' actions. Moreover, the real target audience for their terrorism was the Irish People. (Mullan D. And Mullin J.) think that this is an aspect that could have been further explored in the film as it places the character and motivations of Michael Collins in a less ambiguous light.
Introduction: a foreword by Neil Jordan. May 29, 2006. http://michaelcollins.warnerbros.com/cmp/introduction.html
Michael Collins" directed by Neil Jordan.Warner. 1966.
Mullan D. And Mullin J. Terrorism Defined and Exemplified. 2004. May 29, 2006. http://www.phoblacht.net/terdefexpjmdm.html
RELIGIOUS TERRORISM. May 27, 2006. http://faculty.ncwc.edu/TOConnor/429/429lect13.htm
Shulgasser B. COLLINS' TERRORIST AS HERO. 1996. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1996/10/25/WEEKEND973.dtl