First things first, whoever came up with this movie’s poster tagline – "Every Plot Has A Story" – deserves some kind of award. Now, on to the movie itself, in much the same way that people who live in a particular city might not be aware of the cultural impact it has, it’s probably fair to say that many Dubliners have no idea just how big a tourist attraction the Glasnevin Graveyard has proved to be in recent years. With almost as many people buried there as there are alive in city surrounding it, many Dubliners would have a loved one there, but people come far and wide from around the world to immerse themselves in the graveyard’s history.
ne Million Dubliners does a great job of mixing these two aspects in together, dealing with the day- to-day heartbreak that comes with working within the grounds, as well as tourists and visitors who come to lay flowers at the grave of Michael Collins because they thought he was so dreamy that time Liam Neeson played him.
irector Aoife Kelleher knows that this could lead to some seriously bummed out cinema patrons, and thankfully has the endearing and entertaining Shane MacThomais, a resident historian and tour guide, to bring us through the movie. Between conversations about faith, religion, family and Irish history, Kelleher wisely pins the movie’s backbone to him, and it’s because of him that most of the documentary’s biggest laughs (as well as biggest tear-inducing scenes) come about.
elleher also employs some gorgeous cinematography, capturing the cemetery in a warm, sunset-y glow that defies the grey tombstones and brown dirt to make the site seem almost magically beautiful.
t times it can feel like it’s bordering on a charity advertisement, with the management of the graveyard talking about falling government investment despite the increase in tourism popularity, and even at a scant 80 minutes, there’s still about a dozen prolonged, wordless montages of various headstones in various states of disarray.
espite these niggly issues, One Million Dubliners is still an eye-opening, entertaining documentary, and seriously, that poster tagline is just brilliant.