Monday, February 28, 2022

Review of "Africa In Flames," DVD

 Review of

Africa In Flames, DVD

Four stars

Good if you view it through the appropriate lens of the time

 Even viewed through the lens of understanding how Africans were portrayed in the late 1920’s, this “documentary” still has some weaknesses. However, if you factor in how sub-Saharan Africans were depicted in other venues, then this one stands up reasonably well. They are depicted as having intelligence and culture, not as mindless and simple savages.

 The video was filmed in the small Habbania town of Buram in Southern Sudan, stars the actual people of the village and was first released in 1930. It depicts them in their daily lives, the dangers from predators as well as some of their ceremonies. The title of the video is taken from the main event, a prairie fire that forces the villagers to flee across a river.

 While the video is narrated, it is not of the high quality that was seen in later “talkies” If you are experienced in the history of film then you could come close to dating it by realizing that it was made in the transition from silent films to the days when the art of including dialog had been perfected.

 One amusing aspect is that some of the women are bare-chested, which is a reminder of the old standard that bare breasts were allowed to appear uncensored as long as they were covered by black skin.

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