They patrolled black neighbourhoods causing trouble and killing policemen... right?
Only if you believe the propaganda. What this independent film makes clear is that the Black Panther Party was a radical progressive movement, who along with Students for A Democratic Society, and the ACLU and NAACP helped change the United States in the sixties.
Do you also remember the breakfast clubs so that children didn't have to go to school hungry? Do you remember the books that were an important part of training a Black Panther Party member? Do you remember the fact that the Black Panther Party members had every legal right to do what they did?
The movie makes it clear that the reason tat the Party members carried guns was to protect themselves from Police brutality. In the end, I think that their policy backfired, and they were targeted much more violently then they might otherwise have been for that policy.
The movie combines coverage of sixties footage with shots of four members as they appear now. Even though they have been subjected to harassment, imprisonment, and brutality, what shined clearly through, was that these are intelligent, articulate and determined people who have made the very best of their lives and kept to their ideals.
The most emotional part of the movie was when the people talked about their comrades who had been killed. They fought against the "pig" power structures in society, in order to give their people a better life. They look around now, and see that over the last 30 years, things have not got better, instead, they have become much worse, and the question was asked: "Did our brothers die in vain?"
It's not too late to make the answer "NO!"
The thing that I liked best about the film was the camera work. I thought that the angles, and camera motion was very effective. However, everything else was the worst cliche of French films.
I found that the words of the Greeks came back to me as I was watching The Debt Collector. "Those whom the gods will destroy, they first make mad". It seemed apt for a modern tragedy in the tradition of Sophocles.
The best technique that Neilson used was lighting. It's rare to have a movie that goes from such brightness to such gloom. The wedding scene, for instance, was as bright and cheerful as you expect such a scene to be, but after Keltie's parting shot, we are outside, in the rain, the dark, the gloom... perfect!
The violence is something that others have commented on. It is so unlike the Hollywood violence that we are accustomed to seeing. This violence is very real, and more shocking and horrifying because of it. All the male lead characters were capable of violence, and it made me wonder how close we all are from such displays.
The Debt Collector is a story of hatred gone to extremes. It spoke to me of how hatred and revenge are empty ideas... and how it is much more important, if difficult to forgive those who have harmed you, and not to live in the past.
This movie is not for everyone, but if you are interested in tragedy, then you should see this film.
Often in New Zealand films, they are let down by the production values. Not so here. This film could have been produced anywhere in the world. The editing is adept and crisp, and the cinematography is supurb. Direction is equally taught. I was literally on the edge of my seat during the climax, and my heart rate was elevated for many minutes afterwards.
If this is the future of New Zealand film, then GIVE THE FILM COMMISSION MORE MONEY!!!!
Well, maybe if you are able to turn off your whole cerebral cortex while watching.
There were no surprises: "Are they going to fall???!!!??"
It was not bad, that is, it was well shot, the settings were exotic (although exactly which juristiction the FBI had in KL is anyone's guess!
But it was not, by any possible means, good.
If you work in a dehumanising little box, or you just like Dilbert, then see this movie. Not only will you recognise your co-workers, and your bosses, but also all those irritating aspects of box-life will be shown to you in a whole new light.
There were some teenage girls watching the movie at the same time as my friend and I (we worked together). As we laughed and laughed, one of them shouted to us, "It's not *that* funny!". My friend replied, "You haven't lived it yet!"
Nothing about the story seemed contrived, and each of the plot elements followed logically from what had gone before.
The message of this film. Love yourself and others, live in the now, but do not forget the past.