Michael Collins was a bold project for director Neil Jordan to undertake, as the title character is not a well-known figure on these shores, and he's a controversial one in Ireland and England. But he got a boost when the 1996 film and Liam Neeson in the title role won top honors at the Venice Film Festival.
Collins (Neeson) led the underground Irish Volunteers in their fight against English occupation of Ireland. He organized the group shortly after the Easter Uprising of 1916 and commanded the bloody fight between the Volunteers and English spies and troops stationed in Ireland. Jordan threw a love triangle into the mix, with Collins and his right-hand man Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn) both falling for Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts). Collins's reputation as freedom fighter and hero suffered irreparably when he compromised with the British, leaving Northern Ireland under crown rule. He was shot at age 31, and some suspected former ally Eamon de Valera (Alan Rickman) was in on plans to assassinate Collins.