Akerman visited Jasper, Alabama in the wake of the barbaric murder of James Byrd Jr by white supremacists. Her empathy, care, and unflinching eye are a perfect way to view this American tragedy. Beautiful, thoughtful, and haunting as one expects from this wonderful and greatly missed artist.
The first Akerman movie I watched was No Home Movie (2015), I think it was actually the second movie I watched after signing up for Mubi. For the record I really didn't enjoy No Home Movie, but the premise of South (1999) was just so enticing that I decided to give Akerman a second chance. Unfortunately I have to admit that I am just not a fan of Akerman's style of filmmaking...
Chillingly understated documentary of the Byrd murder. The facts are the outrage in Akerman's view and don't need amplification, which contrasts sharply with other approaches to this horror. There are a lot of long tracking shots from a car. I thought these tracked the fateful ride but that is never made clear.
This movie documents an extraordinary, mature, and compassionate response to a horrific crime against humanity. These people are advanced human beings. I do wonder how often the black community is called to respond to terrorism. And how many times have their grace filled responses to it have prevented war. Five stars because its a revelation.
"At the heart of this journey is the murder of James Byrd Jr, and his presence haunts the entire film. This is not an anatomy of his murder, nor the autopsy of a black man lynched by three young white males, but more an evocation of how this event fits in to a landscape and climate as much mental as physical." - Chantal Akerman. The slow traveling shot down the fatal three miles of road Byrd was dragged is horrifying
I found this documentary to be neither insightful nor entertaining, and almost nothing is revealed by Akerman. Why is the majority of the film shot from a slow-moving vehicle? The entire execution feels like a white Western European woman who is fascinated by what she thinks is a singular incarnation of racism found only in the United States.
Such an awful murder and evil act of violence. What did this film enlighten about this crime or the people involved? Nothing. Long, boring takes for tone and atmosphere. A long useless drive following the path of the murder gives us zero emotions and no connection to it. Wasted time as Akerman has nothing to offer us or to add to this conversation.
Akerman allows things to unfold in long chunks of real time, rather than jerking the viewer from one thing to another via editing. It allows one the freedom to explore the changing image at one's own pace. This laissez-faire style of filmmaking could be a bore, but Akerman consistently points the camera at interesting things. I also liked the sound design, but wished for higher resolution imagery.
Another gem from Akerman, a truly fantastic filmmaker. The aim of the film quickly becomes about the killing of James Byrd and the horrifying way in which he was killed and the obvious motives for the killing. This film definitely makes you think, the legacy of slavery is still very strong.