An interesting film addressing racism in provincial France of the late 19th century. A black doctor from the French Caribbean assumes the position of town doctor. He replaces a white doctor, and finds his practice is empty and devoid of patients.
He realizes that, in order to remain in his position, he must gain the confidence of the local population. His strategy is to first conquer the mayor's trust, who's taking his family to a nearby town in order to be treated. The story is well told, and technically, the TV film is impeccable.
I imagine that the writer's (an director's) intention is to show how little racist feelings have changed in European small towns in the last 120 to 150 years. While the doctor enjoys the respect of his assistants, the local bourgeoisie accepts him; but as a rarity, a desired sex object for many women.
You're not a "nègre" is something the doctor hears, but does not accept. It's the same comment assimilated Jews and other racial groups have had to accept to integrate into most communities. The points of not really being black and being a rarity are accentuated when the local zoo has African tribal men from the colonies in cages like monkeys, and with monkeys too.
The doctor cannot accept this spectacle, but he realizes its symbolism. The women who chase him are after his uniqueness, just as if he belonged in a zoo. The powerful men in the town also cannot overcome their prejudice, and often justify the doctor's acceptance by his Carbbean, rather than direct African heritage. The doctor's father had come from the Creole elite, a plantation and slave owner, who had married a slave. That's how our doctor had access to medical school.
In all, the film is outstanding as a made for TV film, with excellent production values, wonderful reconstruction of the period, its costumes and bygone language. But it reminds us that the very basic in mankind has not changed much at all in 120 or 150 years. Now playing on Cable TV in the Americas.
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