As we grapple with the post Celtic Tiger, post bail-out landscape, along comes film-maker Pat Collins with a documentary which not only offers us a context – historical, social and philosophical – but also prompts us to think.
This filmic essay is centred in the Midlands, in County Westmeath, Ireland’s historical ‘umbilicus’, and from here the legacy of colonialism, patronage and privilege are explored, as well as our relationship with the land and the past. The real strength of this documentary is Collins’ judicious use of archive material, both sound and image, which he intercuts with present-day footage and commentators, geographers and historians. The effect is both lyrical and remarkable.
We are also given a fascinating insight into how the so-called ‘middle man’ rose to a position of power in Ireland, from the cattle ranchers of the 1600s to the new middle men of the financial sector, much beloved of modern governments. This is an important piece of work, a forward-looking social commentary of our time.