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DECAMERONE NERO's German DVD has a Super-8mm version of "Goodbye Uncle Tom", (German audio only) as a special feature on the disc. See more »
'Questo film è un documentario. I fatti sono storicamente avvenuti ed i personaggi sono realmente esistiti.' Which translates to: 'This film is a documentary. The facts historically happened and the persons really existed.' See more »
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Probably closer to the truth than any other film about slavery, ever..
When I first saw GOODBYE UNCLE TOM several years ago on a muddy bootleg, the level of production value that went into this "shockumentary" impressed me. I was amazed that the filmmakers were able to corral literally hundreds of Black people into degrading and de-humanizing reenactments of various aspects of slavery. But I also understood that this was a very special film for that exact reason. Unlike American films about slavery, it makes no effort to excuse or sugarcoat this heinous act. Like the opening of Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou, the filmmakers intent is to force you to open your eyes to the truthful horrors of this 400 year old practice.
The premise of the film is brilliant--an Italian documentary film crew is transported "back in time" to interview and bear witness to American Slavery on all levels--from rich slave owners, to the "veterinarian" who must clean and delouse the slaves, to the poor whites who don't own slaves but invade their quarters for the purposes of rape this movie holds nothing back, etc. It loses points for some gratuitous nudity and violence (Mandingo, anyone?), and it's contemporary ending (which tries to connect the Black Power movement and the Nat Turner 1831 slave revolt) is somewhat muddled and clearly designed to leave viewers terrified. The concept that Black men still hate white people but crave their women but would prefer to kill them rather than make love to them is an idea better tackled in the film version of Baraka's DUTCHMAN. If the film were made a few years later it might end by raising the question of whether or not Black are still enslaved--not by carnal lust, but in a prison of the mind.
But the recent DVD release of this film (and its Director's Cut) brings to light two things the shoddy bootlegs didn't. (1) Unlike typical grindhouse exploitation, this is first and foremost a work of art--the opening shot, taken from a helicopter flying over a plantation over a field of slaves, then drawing low enough to blow away the bales of cotton and causing the slaves to flee in glee is GENIUS. Every image and idea is incredibly thought out. The score is up there with the best of Morricone and Rota . The photography and widescreen compositions are top-notch.
However, it is unsettling to discover (2), most of the film was shot in Haiti with the full cooperation of mercenary dictator "Papa Doc" Duvaluier and the Tontons Macoutes (who probably had no problem getting hundreds of Hatian natives willing to degrade and dehumanize themselves for the purpose of making a film). ). In the end, this is a painful film to watch on many levels, but deserves to be seen alongside Alex Haley's ROOTS. 8.5/10 Stars.
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