This epic Italian docu-drama about slavery in America received an "X" rating during its brief American release, and defies categorization. The re-enactments are extreme and exploitative, but also probably more realistic than any sanitized Hollywood film about slavery. Authentic documentary footage is woven in, making this very controversial work hard to dismiss as another "Mondo Film". Streaming now on bwctv.vhx.tv
Sprawling mondo epic boasts some astounding, powerful, and shocking images. The social and political messages are troubling - illustrating the horrors of racism while presenting some strong racist overtones itself. Still, an ambitious and fascinating film that plays with the medium of the documentary and another prime example of incredibly artful exploitation. Excellent score by Riz Ortolani.
Misguided, appalling and unforgivably monstrous. Jacopetti and Prosperi threw out their right to artistic consideration when they flew to Haiti and made this with Papa Doc's cooperation. If they aren't monsters then they are by far the most naive filmmakers who ever lived, and the latter is simply not a good enough excuse. They treated people like slaves to make this movie and that cannot be ignored.
Nothing to do with racism; a trained ideological statement. The irony in the last lines gives it away. "Go home now, my little Americans, shower that dust of centuries off of your skin. Your yesterday was a tragedy, a farce. But tomorrow is another day, right? Your tomorrow belongs to you, doesn't it? Show us now – we'll be watching your city as it burns." The disdain of J&P is indiscriminate. Black, white; human.
It was horrible to watch. But it was worse to live.. People appalled by this film are the people who want to just "move on" from slavery, as if it didn't happen. This is what slavery was. Any other portrayal is a dilution of history.
Exploitive to be sure but I've yet to see a more honest depiction of the brutalities of early slave trade. Yes 12 years a slave was harrowing but glossy and almost horror porn. This seems realistic whereas the slavers aren't portrayed as inherently evil, just doing what comes natural at the time. Indifference to human suffering seems more authentic than sociopathic slavers hell bent on torturing their slaves.
The subject matter of the film is hard to watch but important. The use of actual historical documents helps reveal how ingrained slavery was in the Americas. However, all of the potential for good is fiercely undermined by the blatant, embarrassing exploitation of the cast playing the African slaves. Because of this I don't think the movie was meant to educate; it was meant to exploit and mock. Cannot un-see.