Sisters Olanna and Kainene return home to 1960s Nigeria, where they soon diverge on different paths. As civil war breaks out, political events loom larger than their differences as they join the fight to establish an independent republic.
Anika Noni Rose
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Gertrude Lowthian Bell, sometimes called the "female" Lawrence of Arabia was a British adventurer, archaeologist and political powerhouse, who helped shape the modern Middle East after World War I. Voiced and executive produced by Tilda Swinton, the film chronicles Bell's journey into the uncharted Arabian desert and all-male halls of colonial power with never-seen-before archival footage of the region shot a century ago. The film takes us into a past that is eerily current.
Long before there were guide books and people trekked through the Middle East, Gertrude Bell travelled on a camel through desert areas only inhabited by roving bandit chieftains. She kept meticulous notes of the various tribes, their relationships, and even carried an expensive transit/theodolite. She developed a very strong attachment to the area and its peoples. This was an age of great exploration, witness Col. Fawcett exploring the Amazon. What all these explorers developed was an intense and passionate interest in the places they visited. They learned the languages and studied the habits of the people.
The directors tell the story of Gertrude Bell's time in Mesopotamia or modern day Iraq through her many letters. They are absolutely fascinating in that not only is her interior life and feelings revealed, but a good deal of information about the political and social conditions in the empire at that time. I believe the directors were smart to stick to the letters and make them the focus of the story. The documentary is brilliant in what it doesn't say. The viewer can make up their own minds, the information is pretty overwhelming. What I found most fascinating were the monuments and historical objects that were uncovered. They indicate far earlier and complex civilizations that had a grasp of our place in nature and in the cosmos. Bell went to great lengths to establish a museum to preserve these artifacts to man's origin. Curiously both T. E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell both had rather violent ends. One by an untimely motorcycle accident and the other by an overdose.
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