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Enzo G. Castellari
An offbeat tale of vengeance in a "progressive" colonialist society.
A well acted depiction of life in White Rhodesia from the European point of view, and a rather disturbing story of an irreconcilable conflict between a good man's justifiable need for revenge and the necessity of upholding the law. Parents, and those sensitive to violence, should be cautioned that this is an extremely gruesome film with explicit scenes of rape, murder, torture, and mutilation.
The film credibly portrays the lives of European settlers determined to remain in their adopted land despite the increasing danger of rebellion. Most of them honestly believe that it is possible to live in peace with the Africans as long as they are willing to accept their "civilizing" guidance. The rebels are presented as bloodthirsty thugs who terrorize other Africans and have no real program of true revolution other than savage hatred of the White Man. Most of the Africans are more or less loyal to the Whites and are usually shown to be strong, honorable, and trustworthy, although often in a patronizing manner.
Christopher Lee is quite good as a police chief determined to prevent vigilante justice when a group of terrorists led by an albino (pronounced "albeeno" in the film) witch doctor (Horst Frank) rape and murder the fiancée of a man recently retired from the police force. He (James Faulkner); along with a couple of equally vengeful African servants of the victim's elderly father (Trevor Howard); takes off into the bush to find and kill those responsible. These are not evil men out to indiscriminately slaughter Africans but people who feel that there can be no rest for their souls until they spill the blood of The Albino and his crew. Lee sympathizes with their feelings but is firm in his determination to maintain law and order and bring the killers to justice legally. This, of course, also means hunting down the revenge party, causing the settler's militia to mutiny and withdraw from the operation.
The pursuit of both the killers and the posse is grim and realistic, causing the viewer to actually perceive the stresses and fatigue of the participants. Although somewhat cheaply done, subtly racist, and overly clipped and trite in spots, the film is of great interest from both the historical and moral perspective. I saw it many years ago, but, unfortunately, it; like a surprising number of other quality films; hasn't been made commercially available on either VHS or DVD.
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