Netflix’s new drama Rebellion, set during the 1916 Easter Rising, has been greeted with much hype. Some of it is justified.
Most films set during the Easter Rising such as Michael Collins and Rebel Heart follow a classic formula. During the first ten minutes there’s usually some shooting at the General Post Office as the rebels try to defend Dublin.
Fast forward and the Irish Civil War is tearing apart the protagonists’ friendship.
One supports the Free State and partition, while the other fights for the Republic.
Rebellion breaks from that over-used mold—slightly. It begins at the outbreak of the First World War and then focuses meticulously on the actual rising. At the centre of it are three women protagonists.
May works for the British administration, her sister Frances is a nationalist language teacher in Patrick Pearce’s Irish language school.
Elizabeth’s Irish bourgeois family supports Irish Home Rule and Britain in the First World War, but she’s part of James Connolly’s socialist Irish Citizen Army
This way there are also nods to class struggles and tensions. Given this potential depth, it’s a shame how slowly the story develops as a result of its structure.