Robert Emmet was born on this day in 1778. For the day that’s in it, I thought I’d highlight some silent films featuring Emmet that you can download or watch online thanks to the ‘Irish Film & TV Research Online’ project at Trinity College Dublin.
From 1907-1915 over thirty films depicting aspects of Irish history were made, for the most part by American studios. Many of these films focussed on aspects of Irish history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
In 1911, the Thanhouser Company film, one of the first motion picture studios, produced a ten minute long film entitled, Robert Emmet. It was inspired by the poetry of Thomas Moore and highlighted a love story between Emmet and Sarah Curran. This movie is not available to view online, to my knowledge, but further information about it is available here and here.
The film Ireland a Nation, released in 1914, focussed on the period from 1798 to 1803 . This movie shows Emmet meeting Napoleon (see 1:08) and other events surrounding the 1803 rebellion, including Emmet’s trial and execution. Anne Devlin’s role in those events is particularly highlighted. More details on the film are available here, and you can take a look at the embedded movie below.
Another film featuring Emmet and his ill-fated rebellion was released in 1915. Bold Emmett [sic] – Ireland’s Martyr was directed by Sidney Ollcott, an American movie director of Irish heritage. Go to 23:05 below to take a look at Emmet escaping capture by climbing out of a chimney!
If you’d like to read more about depictions of Emmet on film, Kevin Rockett’s 2003 History Ireland article on the topic is available here.