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Martinique, in the early 1930s. Young José and his grandmother live in a small village. Nearly everyone works cutting cane and barely earning a living. The overseer can fine a worker for the smallest infraction. The way to advance is to do well in school. José studies hard and succeeds in an exam allowing him to attend school in the capital. With only a partial scholarship, the tuition is very costly. José and his grandmother move to Fort-de-France to make José's studies easier... Written by
Few films capture the hope and desperation of a people. Even fewer can venture into the hearts and souls of their characters to reveal humanity. I have heard many stories, and seen many movies, but Sugar Cane Alley stands above many others, for it uses film as a canvas for emotions, realities, and dreams.
The actors in this movie glow. All of them from Jose to his grandmother to Medouze to the children of the plantation system. It is hard to picture these people in any other place: their voices, their actions, their feelings, the way they run, laugh, swim-it all seems to come naturally. It feels real and true.
The camera work furthers our understanding of the characters by juxtaposing the lush landscape of Martinque with the routine of plantation work. There will be times when the viewer will want to pause the film to look at a scene as one might view a painting, Sugar Cane Alley is a true motion picture. Every shot showcases perfectly balanced lighting and color.
Then there are social messages, messages that cannot be as well described as viewed, about justice, hope, opportunity, and determination.
I cannot rank a film I have seen higher than this one. It is simply a must-see.
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