Monday, September 22, 2014

Films seen in September 2014

1. Half of a Yellow Sun 

I read the book six years ago and my memory of it is therefore dimmed but I draw in part on my review of the book. As usual the film selects parts of the story and thereby leaves you in the dark about some events like the effects of seeing the brutality of the slaughter in Kano. One part done well was the use of black and white newsreel footage to tell the history of Nigeria at the time but in line with the Biafran bias, though we see Ojukwu and hear his Sandhurst accent, we never see Gowon present the federal side. This is a story by an Igbo author being a great apology for Biafra. The one thing I found incredible in the book, repeated in the film, was the assertion that some expatriates encouraged the killing of Igbos in the North. I had friends in the North who witnessed the murders. They were horrified and traumatised by the butchery and never recounted any expatriate approval let alone encouragement of genocide.
This is a powerful well told story. The life of well to do Nigerians and expatriates in the newly independent Nigeria is well related. But were Nigerian sixties women as free with sexual favours as the twins in this film? Overall the film came across as one more about personal relations with the was more of an incidental setting rather than central. The Biafrans were starving during the conflict. Everyone here looked well fed but as in Schindler's List, representing emaciation is not possible. Overall, too much sex and not enough of ordinary Nigerian life. The central characters are part of a privileged elite.

2.  The Railway Man

How is it that film makers can liase with the author of a story only to significantly alter it. First I saw this DVD. Then I read the book. The film was good but it denied the real story at the end. Drama taking precedence over truth? The film could not portray the extent of the real horror and torture experienced by Lomax. As in Schindler's List, you cannot find actors emaciated to the point of death. So the film spares the viewer the reality of the suffering. On the plus side it does give one the beauty of Nicole Kidman. She is a beautiful wife for Lomax. The story of his first marriage is omitted from the film.

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