Feature Story > Reel Affirmations

THE GHOST OF ROGER CASEMENT

[CRITIC'S PICK]

Saturday, Oct. 19, 4 p.m.
Goethe Institut, $9

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This Irish television documentary paints a fascinating picture of Irish national Roger Casement, executed by England in 1916 for treason after he consorted with the Germans in the throes of World War I in his quest to support an independent Irish state. Clemency was imminent, though, as Casement had garnered international acclaim for his humanitarian efforts in uncovering the barbaric treatment of natives in the rubber trade in Africa and South America. But public support of Casement vanished when British officials suddenly unveiled the “Black Diaries,” purportedly written by Casement and detailing graphic details of a hidden homosexual life.

Later in the 20th century, Casement was reclaimed as a hero among Irish patriots, but only after the diaries were widely considered to be forgeries crafted by a desperate British government, igniting a debate that still rages in some circles to this day. By the time director Alan Gilsenan delves into the recent high-profile forensic examination of the diaries, undertaken to prove their authorship, he has waited a bit too long to explore the Irish conservatism that will permit the exaltation of Casement only if his homosexuality can be dismissed. But it's not enough of a misstep to significantly diminish the overarching impact and importance of Casement's intriguing story. -- Jonathan Padget


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