Quick Film Guide: The Patriot Game (Arthur MacCaig, 1979)

The Patriot Game
Directed by Arthur MacCaig

American director/cinematographer Arthur MacCaig charts the history of Northern Ireland from its inception in 1922. He particularly takes us right in the midst of the action, capturing the street riots, police violence and firebomb attacks of the period between 1968 to 1978 via shocking footage he shot himself.

The Patriot Game was MacCaig’s feature debut and it is arguably his best-known work. It was deemed controversial at the time because, from the beginning, he makes it a point to establish his perspective, siding with the point of view of the Provisional IRA, the Irish Republican paramilitary organization that emerged at the beginning of 1970 and sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, and facilitate the reunion of Ireland in an independent republic.

The documentary is emotionally charged and focused. One can feel the filmmaker’s passion for the topic at its every moment. It is also a complete portrayal, including historical context, shocking first-hand footage, on-field interviews, and the music and words of the rebel songs.

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