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The Extraordinary Equiano (2007)

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Credited cast:
Ayodeji Aloba ... Olaudah equiano
... Olaudah Equiano
... Captain Pasqual
Josette Simon ... Narrator
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Drama

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20 March 2007 (UK)  »

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If you already know the basics then it may not do but otherwise, despite the weaknesses in the delivery, it is worth seeing due to the life of Equiano if not the film itself
25 April 2007 | by See all my reviews

Repeated as part of the BBC's series of films this film takes the history of the writing of "The Interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, the African" and discusses his life. Starting as a youth stolen into slavery, we follow him on the terrible sea journey that follows, his education in London as a slave within the navy, his pursuit of freedom and the ongoing trap that his skin seems to be.

Starting with no knowledge of this man, I suspect I was the target audience for this film as it gives an overview of Equiano while dramatising his story in a weirdly updated setting. The delivery of the story in the narration and the contributors is actually pretty interesting and I found myself engaged easily enough by this terrible but yet inspiring tale. The problem I had with it was the dramatisations happening in the background. This is often the weakness with this style of documentary, maybe because they are secondary, with a limited budget and actors who are being presented with scenes to deliver as opposed to bigger characters and time to work with them. So it seems here as the dramatised scenes are a mixed bag.

I was trying to think of a way they could have delivered the story better while keeping the accessible tone and I couldn't. However this is not the same as it being good and it doesn't really work. The modern setting doesn't seem to be followed through and as a result it sort of clunks around for seemingly no reason without really achieving much or having a point. The dramatisations do make the story more accessible but the actors are not that hot – not their fault I suppose because they aren't being handed characters so much as events.

Interesting as an introduction to Equiano because it is accessible and engaging. If you already know the basics then it probably won't do much for you but, despite the weaknesses in the delivery, it is worth seeing due to the life of Equiano if not the film itself.


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