Archive for the ‘Slavery’ Category

This is a movie for those who love Jane Austin stories, but think they are too white. It’s set in the same period of time, but this time the female heroine is a mulatto heiress.

The illegitimate daughter of a wealthy navy officer (and a slave from the West Indies) is raised by her uncle and aunt, who are already raising another niece. When her father dies she has a good fortune, but that doesn’t mean much, because as a mulatto she can’t really go higher up in society. Until a noble man fancies on marrying her, telling her that ‘unlike others’ he is ready to ignore the traits she received for her mother because ‘it is clear that the traits of her father luckily are more evident’.

In the mean time, the uncle is settling a case about a (slave ship) company that threw their human cargo overboard in order to get money back from their insurance. A young lawyer is trying to convince the uncle that he should speak against the company. Soon the mulatto heiress falls for him.

Yawn.

It’s a period piece. With a different take. But it tells the same story. It sucks being a woman at that time. Let alone a mulatto woman with money.

Somehow, British people love seeing movies and series about class distinction so they can continue using it.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404181

Hm.

There’s something really disturbing about this movie that is difficult to digest if you have given up on religion as something good. It’s constantly referring to it, in particular the christian faith. The bible and christianity have both been used by slave owners and slave/civil rights resistance leaders as a source for their cause. That’s a known fact. But in this tale,  there’s just too much focus on it.

Sure, it’s the core of the story: a young slave learns to read the bible and then is later used to preach the bible to rebellious slaves so they can obey their masters again. At one point the man is ordered to preach a verse that goes like this: “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (Peter 2:18-19). That’s in the bible! And however you interpret it or put it in a historical context, it’s VILE.

Then of course things go wrong, at which point a fellow slave asks with reason: “Where is God now?”

Birth Of A Nation is the story of this preaching slave who uses his faith and skills to start a slave rebellion after having seen too much unchristian misery. It’s based on true facts. The man did exist and he did transform from an obedient slave to a wrathful revenge rebel. So no critique there. It’s wel directed and well acted by Nate Parker. (and other members in the cast). Yet somehow it’s not as engaging as it should be. And that’s not because there are hardly any ‘good’ white people on screen. It’s just focusing so damn much on religion that you feel like the director wants people to believe faith is something good and will guide you through vengeance.

Revenge can be cool. Ask Quentin Tarantino. But revenge out of faith is just annoying and disturbing. But that’s probably the whole point of the movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4196450

Book Of Negroes – **

Posted: January 11, 2016 in 2015, Canada, Drama, Slavery, TV series, XX

The Book Of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo, a West African djeli (story teller) who survived being taken as a slave, crossing the ocean, being raped by her slave owner, being sold to a Jewish merchant, fleeing during a visit of New York, educating the (il)legal free slaves, fighting with the Brits in the revolutionary war, and much much more.

It’s a long miniseries based on a successful book and just goes on and on and on.

It’s a story worth telling, no doubt. But it’s told in such a classic way with an overdose of drama that it starts boring after a while. It’s not HBO and it shows. It’s not Roots either. It’s the kind of show for those who want to learn about slavery but can’t stand the graphic details of 12 Years A Slave or the sarcasm of Django Unchained. 

Aunjanue Ellis is great in the leading role. Cuba Gooding Jr does a decent job as well as a free tavern owner in New York. The young Shailyn Pierre-Dixon and Siya Xaba (who star in the first episode) clearly have some talent too. But all the rest of the cast kind of suck. Especially those who play the bad (white) guys. The reason why the above mentioned feature movies are such great classics is because they have not only a great protagonist, but also an excellent antagonist. In this series, the bad guys just suck.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1495950