I don`t normally blog about films but this was film has struck a cord with me, it really made me think. The film the Revenant is being considered for an Oscar for Leonardo DeCaprio`s performance and cinematography. Leonardo`s performance really was phenomenal although I am a fan of the actor so I me a be a bit biased!. The scenery in the film was so well done you would think you were actually present by the rivers and in the mountains looking at the stunning behavior and beauty of the animals of the region. I was impressed so far.
I think one of the messages was, for me, that the colonization of America was as painful for the colonizers as it was for the natives that were being colonized and yes that is probably true. The conditions and of war are always painful for all involved except for the leaders of the countries who, although they declare war or order colonization, rarely are involved in the physical and mental torture of their citizens on the ground.
The film did accurately portray the horror that all groups that were involved went through. We are all human. I think we are not made for continuous aggression over long periods of time. Often the result of war for individuals is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other emotional disturbances. There is no doubt that both the Indians and the colonizers experienced this.
The film made me think of Irish history. In Ireland, where I come from, we are approaching the 1916 Rising 100 years anniversary. This is a rebellion that took place in March at Easter 1916. A small group of men and women rebelled against the English colonialists on O`Connell Street, the main street of Dublin outside the G.P.O, the main post office in Ireland. The rebels mostly used swords and a few had guns. They were met with excessive force by the English army. The G.P.O, a majestic building, was blown up. O`Connell Street Was blown apart. A hotel full of innocent people was blown up. The rebels held the G.P.O for 6 days. The damage to Dublin city center was the fault of the English because the Irish Rebels didn`t have explosives or up to date weapons. The death toll was 400 people. The small group of women and men were executed, shot dead for crimes against the empire, buried in unmarked graves. Most Irish people didn`t want the rebellion, they had grown comfortable with colonization. The high level of aggression toward the Irish and the brutal treatment of the rebels caused the Irish people to rebel and this led to the War of Independence. Terms of peace were worked out between the English and Michael Collins, the leader of the war. He then transformed from being a soldier to diplomat and peacemaker. Some agreed to the terms, others didn`t. This then led to Civil War. This is a really brief tour of the history of the time. Eventually Ireland gained her independence although politicians still have to work hard to maintain peace in Northern Ireland which is shared between Ireland and England. As two countries Ireland and England work together on many issues. Leaders and people of both countries have grown to respect each other and thank God that is the case.
We need to explore our history, it affects current politics and sometimes the psychology of the people of states even today. This is especially true in Ireland. We have to be honest about our history for true healing to take place. The colonizers in America took the land of the natives and the resources so the Indians really suffered. The English did the same in Ireland for 700 years. So it was Irish native people suffered the most. Yet in my country our government is suggesting that the Irish and English suffered equally, that both groups of people need to be remembered. That is one point of view and so I respect it. Many believe the celebrations should be about the rebels and how they suffered. Ireland must as a nation admit the truth to ourselves and in considering the English who died at war in Ireland realize they were the agressors that caused much pain to the Irish natives over hundreds of years. There would have been no war had the English not been so brutal toward the Irish. It was possible to agree to terms of peace after the 1916 Rising and for the English to withdraw from Ireland, then there probably would have been no War of Independence. The Civil war may have been avoided as all groups of people worked together to understand each other.
The issue is not who is to blame. It`s important to admit what actually did happen in histories like this, not what we desire to have happened or fudge the facts to make colonial history more palatable. Then healing can take place.
“Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.” Mahatma Gandi