27 April 2007


An e-mail correspondent pointed out a glaring error on the part of your humble e-scribbler.

A post on one possible source of the government's recent nationalist rhetoric contained the comment: "His interpretation has been criticised by other historians, but it did serve as the inspiration for the entertaining but fictional movie Secret nation."

However, that proposition doesn't hold up since the movie was completed before the master's thesis referred to in the post.

The movie was released in 1992 and the masters degree awarded in 1992, according to this news release, but at most the two projects were in production at the same time and with no apparent crossover. The e-mail contained information that made this clear.

So there it is.

Secret Nation was not inspired by John Fitzgerald's MA thesis.

If it wasn't clear from the above comment, then let's make it clear now: the movie was a work of fiction. The MA wasn't. It's a thesis and as such has been subjected to whatever commentary and criticism is appropriate in an academic context. It stands on its own merits. Sadly, it has not been published for a wider audience to have a look at it.

The 1993 Montreal Gazette story linked here has a comment that makes it plain the movie was finished before the thesis appeared. Michael Jones is quoted as saying:
"It's always been in the air. Based on that, we did a certain amount of research, consulted with historians and that sort of thing before we made the film. But it was only after the film was finished that I read a brilliant thesis by John Fitzgerald, a young historian in St. John's, that was very supportive of the conclusions of the film - even though the film was a piece of fiction."
That's pretty clear and frankly there's no excuse for missing the point that Jones read the thesis after finishing the movie.

As for the rest of the comments Jones makes, well, only he can answer for the conversation.


Update: See also this previous post for the same erroneous comment on the inspiration for the movie.