5.6/10
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3 user 18 critic

The Nine Muses (2010)

Part documentary, part personal essay, this experimental film combines archive imagery with the striking wintry landscapes of Alaska to tell the story of immigrant experience coming into the UK from 1960 onwards.

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Part documentary, part personal essay, this experimental film combines archive imagery with the striking wintry landscapes of Alaska to tell the story of immigrant experience coming into the UK from 1960 onwards.

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7 October 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dziewiec muz  »

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(RCA Sound System)
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Edited from Mnemosyne (2010) See more »

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An extraordinary visual achievement
6 July 2015 | by (Derry, Ireland) – See all my reviews

John Akomfrah's extraordinary film "The Nine Muses" isn't so much a documentary as a visual essay on the theme of immigration from the West Indies to the UK in the 1960's as it alternates between a forbidding Alaska, (for purely visual reasons, I'm sure) and a winterly Britain, both past and present. It looks amazing although the highfalutin narration, taken from everything from the Greek Myths to Shakespeare to James Joyce, and which gives the film its title, may put some people off.

While not in anyway similar it reminded me very much of the films of Andrew Kotting and of "Sleep Furiously". There's something a little precious about the cross-cutting between the images of a totally inhospitable Alaska and an unwelcoming and grimly bleak UK as the black immigrants pile off the ships for a life lived out in steel mills and sweat shops. It isn't necessarily a film to draw you in; you are kept at a discreet distance. This is an art-house exploration of the immigrant experience that most people will fail to identify with; a video installation, more at home in a gallery than in a cinema. That said, once you find yourself set down in front of it, it is impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Documentary films may be many things but few are as much a work of art as this one is.


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