The Ghost of Roger Casement

The controversial legacy of a disgraced Irish hero is reconsidered in Alan Gilsenan's docu "The Ghost of Roger Casement." "Mystery" aspects to this fascinating life story are somewhat over-labored, but otherwise, pic reps an engrossing -- albeit conventionally pubcast-styled look -- at a neglected historical figure.

The controversial legacy of a disgraced Irish hero is reconsidered in Alan Gilsenan’s docu “The Ghost of Roger Casement.” “Mystery” aspects to this fascinating life story are somewhat over-labored, but otherwise, pic reps an engrossing — albeit conventionally pubcast-styled look — at a neglected historical figure. Exposure within English-lingo educational TV markets is assured.

Casement’s (1864-1916) world travels eventually led to consular positions in both the Belgian Congo and South America. In each case, he was appalled by the booming rubber industry’s horrific treatment of native workers — filing reports that led to widespread reforms and his own knighthood. The honor came at a point when his disenchantment with imperialism made Casement a public advocate for Irish independence, going so far as to ally himself with Germany in WWI. Subsequent treason trial might have earned clemency if not for the suspiciously timed discovery of “the Black Diaries,” which linked Casement to sexual involvement with underage boys, wiping out any lingering public support. Since his execution, the diaries’ authenticity has been disputed; docu spends far too much time, however, on a latter-day analysis of those texts, especially given anticlimactic result. Package is solidly crafted.

The Ghost of Roger Casement

Ireland

Production: A Crossing the Line Films production for RTE. Produced by John Murray and Kim Bartley. Executive producers, Rod Stoneman, Kevin Dawson. Directed, written by Alan Gilsenan.

Crew: Camera (color, vid), Richard Kendrick; editors, Martin Duffy, Oliver Fallen; original music, Ray Harman. Reviewed at San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Festival, June 26, 2002. Running time: 107 MIN.

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