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British District Officer in Nigeria in the 1930's rules his area strictly but justly, and struggles with gun-runners and slavers with the aid of a loyal native chief. Written by
Michael Crew <email@example.com>
Paul Robeson disowned this picture, telling journalists that it was the only one of his films to have been screened in Italy and Germany. However, his claim to have walked out of the premiere in disgust was a re-invention of history. See more »
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This British release from 1935 gets a mixed review from me.
On one hand, it is wonderful to see Paul Roberson in a film role, but that enjoyment is tainted somewhat by the way the film portrays native Africans. Sanders is the white man in charge of the district. He treats all of the tribal chiefs and their subjects as if they were his black "children". This theme is repeated so frequently in the film that it seems the filmmakers were--rather defensively--trying to make a point. On the other hand, such arrogant hogwash is routinely part of colonialism wherever it is manifest, so the film's depiction of such racism is accurate.
In my opinion, the best part of the film are the many shots of native life, especially native dances and rituals. We also see various African animals in their natural habitats, even if they are sometimes being stampeded by low-flying aircraft.
The plot of this film was not very engaging. But it is worth noting that the real villains of the film are two white men who wish to stir up the tribes by giving them gin and rifles--apparently just because their only goal in life is to stir up trouble.
The African chiefs and kings seem too Anglicized, and Robeson sings some songs that feel out of place in the mouth of a chief. But I found enjoyment in pieces of this film, if not in the whole.
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