Concerning Violence has a message of great importance

Concerning Violence is a sobering, thoughtful and ultimately harrowing documentary about colonialism and violence directed towards colonial regimes by rebel groups around Africa, using footage from Angola, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Liberia, and more African nations which have in the last century struggled to break free from the chains of colonialism.

Opening with an introduction from University of Columbia professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and narrated throughout by Lauryn Hill, the film plays as something of a lecture, based on Franz Fanon’s 1961 book, The Wretched Of The Earth, using newly found footage taken in Africa in the sixties and seventies. The narration throughout is emotive and powerful, Hill’s voice is firm and resolute in its condemnation of colonialism, and grabs the viewer’s attention by its sheer forcefulness.

There are images which are incredibly of the most harrowing, one of which is referred to as the “black Venus” and the “black Madonna”, showing a woman, her arm gone, breastfeeding her infant child, also with a recently dismembered leg. One of a number of truly disturbing images, it leaves a deep impression on the viewer.

The middle third of the film gets rather dry, and while the impact of European religion and European Churches is a deeply important to the development of colonialism and anti-colonial sentiment, the section is not presented with the same amount of frenetic energy as the other segments, although it does provide a genuinely humorous interview with a feckless Swedish couple trying to build a church. Despite its pacing problems, the film is deeply thought provoking and has some genuinely insightful footage, including an interview with a young Robert Mugabe. It is unspeakably distressing and not for the squeamish, but the message the film conveys is of great importance.

Alistair Norman

Image: Films Boutique

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