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When the Hutu nationalists raised arms against their Tutsi countrymen in Rwanda in April 1994, the violent uprising marked the beginning of one of the darkest times in African history which resulted in the deaths of almost 800,000 people.
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The true story of the rise to power and brutal assassination of the formerly vilified and later redeemed leader of the independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba. Using newly discovered historical evidence, Haitian-born and later Congo-raised writer and director Raoul Peck renders an emotional and tautly woven account of the mail clerk and beer salesman with a flair for oratory and an uncompromising belief in the capacity of his homeland to build a prosperous nation independent of its former Belgium overlords. Lumumba emerges here as the heroic sacrificial lamb dubiously portrayed by the international media and led to slaughter by commercial and political interests in Belgium, the United States, the international community, and Lumumba's own administration; a true story of political intrigue and murder where political entities, captains of commerce, and the military dovetail in their quest for economic and political hegemony.Written by
L. J. Allen-2
Frank Carlucci, who was second secretary at the U.S. embassy in the Congo at the time of Lumumba's assassination, is portrayed in one scene discussing the murder with U.S. Ambassador Clare Timberlake and several Belgian and Congolese officials. Carlucci threatened to sue U.S. distributor Zeitgeist Films if his name was not removed from the movie. Zeitgeist was too small to fight any potential lawsuit, so all non-theatrical U.S. releases of the film (including the version shown on HBO and potential VHS and DVD releases) have Carlucci's name bleeped from the dialogue and masked in the closing credits. See more »
I was a pre-teen when news of Lumumba's assassination hit the news so I very vaguely recall at the time it was sad a leader who tried to shuck the reigns of colonialization was killed for efforts towards independence.
There is woefully insufficient time in a 2 hour movie to completely explain the whos whys and wherefores of a political assassination. Suffice to say the victors write the history and even if the truth were portrayed adequately, who's truth would it be? As the character Lumumba says in the movie, he came 50 years too early.
I found the story fast paced with good production values. It mirrored the all too brief time in power for a promising African leader, and there is a dearth of them lately. That continent still suffers a vacuum in its leadership, a state that will take another century to rectify. The film and life of Lumumba is a lesson of how badly things can go wrong in a climate of conflicting objectives and numerous parties and forces acting in a volatile setting. Congo had just gained independence and tribal rivalry reared its head very quickly. It is suggested for example that Lumumba seek sanctuary in the province of Katanga, where months before he had been refused landing rights in a flight to visit the troubled area. Politics makes strange bedfellows.
The time of the 1960s was the height of the cold war and Lumumba's courting of Soviet aid to fast track his country did not win any favours. No doubt the superpower USA had at least some hand in his death, much the same as Ngo Dhin Diem in Vietnam around the same time. Attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro at that time are also well documented so it may be some measure of just desserts that Kennedy met his end with an assassin's bullet.
Read up on that period of history then watch the movie to get additional value for the time you invest, and then you will be prepared to better understand contemporary events in far off places when national interests are at stake. Oil, diamonds, bauxite, coffee, whatever; liberty always seems to take a back seat when these interests get the ear of the powers that be.
Realism in the film is reinforced with the french dialog. I also understood the subtleties having studied military coups in university under a black professor who came from Nigeria.
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