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Release Date:
7 October 2011 (USA) See more »
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. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Fascinating if difficult tone poem of a film See more (3 total) »

Directed by
John Akomfrah 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Akomfrah 

Produced by
Lina Gopaul .... producer
David Lawson .... producer
Original Music by
Trevor Mathison 
Cinematography by
Dewald Aukema 
Film Editing by
Miikka Leskinen 
Visual Effects by
Rick McMahon .... compositor
Rick McMahon .... visual effects artist
Editorial Department
Michelle Cort .... digital intermediate technician
Tim Drewett .... digital film technician
M.J. McMahon .... post-production consultant
Andy Richards .... supervising DI conform editor
Katelin Westwood .... data transfer
Other crew
François Kamffer .... di technician

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Sound Mix:
Dolby Digital (RCA Sound System)
Filming Locations:

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Movie Connections:
Edited from Mnemosyne (2010/I)See more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Fascinating if difficult tone poem of a film, 25 August 2012
Author: runamokprods from US

John Akomfrah has spent his career creating films that are more 'tone poems' about a subject than literal narrative or documentary. Combining newsreel footage with often surreal new images he shoots, and sometimes an audio collage approach to sound, Akomfrah's films are by turns brilliant,frustrating, effective, sophomoric and just plain unique. Some of the films 'work' better than others for me, but I suspect that is a subjective reaction, and one that could easily change on repeated viewings.

In short, these are more like films you'd see playing as an installation in an art museum than at your local cinema, which probably explains why so little of Akomfrah's impressive body of work is available on home video.

The Nine Muses takes as it's 'subject' Africans and others emigrating to England after WW II, and the difficulties in assimilating, as shown in numerous and well chosen old film clips. The film combines those clips with gorgeous, slightly surreal newly shot images of two unidentifiable men in parkas against the background of Alaska while on the soundtrack great writers from Homer to Beckett are read aloud by great actors (from Naxos' recorded book series, most many years old).

The reading with the most clear thematic connection is "The Odyssey" and it's tale of a difficult journey. But all the readings echo the immigrant experience, if sometimes in a very oblique way. At the same time, the score is a mix of all sorts of music, sometimes crashing into and playing on top of each other (another comment on assimilation? Loss of identity?)

I'll admit, by the end of the 93 minutes, I was starting to burn out a little on the lack of clear, neat connection and context between these images, words, and the eclectic score. But like poetry, this is a film that transcends logic to create a mood more than a story or point. And like poetry it may take more than one go round to 'get it'.

And while I don't think it all works, I salute Akomfrah for being willing to challenge his audience with something experimental and different.

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