This Irish mini-series depicts the failed Easter Rebellion of 1916, when a group of Irish nationalists seized government buildings in Dublin and declared a free republic. The rebellion went pear-shaped almost immediately, and was put down by the British army in short order. The rebels did not, initially, garner a lot of public support. But the ferocious response of the British government, including summary executions without trial of the principal rebels, led to a dramatic change in public opinion. Before WWI, it was generally assumed that Ireland would remain in the UK under some form of home rule. After this event, it was independence or nothing, at least in the Catholic-majority areas of the island.
Although the series depicts the principal actors and events of the rebellion, it focuses on a number of smaller actors in various roles, both men and women, who have to decide what side they are on — sometimes in opposition to their own families. The British don’t generally come off that well (understandable, since this is an Irish show). But Eamon de Valera, later president of Ireland, doesn’t come off that well either. The series takes a surprisingly sympathetic view of Irish Protestants living in the South, who realize very quickly there will be no place for them in post-independence Ireland. Most poignantly of all, the series depicts the plight of the Irish soldier, asked to open fire on his own countrymen to put down the rebellion.
The writing is of varying quality (a subplot involving a relationship between and Irish woman and a married British administrator doesn’t really work that well). But most of the storylines and characters are very interesting, and illustrate a historical event that generally hasn’t been well served by film-makers in either the US or the UK.
Most of the actors are Irish and not well known here, although fans of Game of Thrones, which uses a lot of Irish actors, will see some familiar faces.