The People’s Minister of Information JR interviews “Beasts of No Nation” director Cary Fukunaga and its young star Abraham Attah for the Traveling Film Circus television show on Channel 26 in San Francisco.
Film Review by The People’s Minister of Information JR
“Beasts of No Nation” is a well financed Netflix film that crudely exposes the face of the wars in Africa and the false poverty that has been created by U.S. and other Western imperialist governments spearheading a corporate plan to rob the richest continent on earth of its natural resources.
It is the tale of a little boy in an unnamed African country. The boy, played by Abraham Attah, is orphaned when he is left with his father in the war zone after his mother and young siblings flee. The boy’s father becomes a casualty of the war.
A short while after he was orphaned, a rebel guerrilla army led by the character played by Idris Elba stumbles upon him in the bush. The unromanticized brutality of war is captured in the many battles fought by the very brave but misled child and youth soldiers. The film deals boldly with the psychological aspects of brainwashing and propaganda in war.
“Beasts of No Nation” is based on a novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala. I did not read the book so I cannot compare the two.
I don’t know whether to be more upset at Idris Elba, who accepted the role of a homosexual pedophile raping his own soldiers for imperialism or myself for thinking that Idris Elba might use the platform to say something about the world order that has crushed over 6 million people in the Congo in ordeals like the one depicted in the film so that Apple, Microsoft, Dell and the rest of the computer industry can steal coltan and other minerals at the cheapest price possible utilizing proxy armies and governments from nations like Uganda, Rwanda and rebel forces in the Congo to do it.
“Beasts of No Nation” is a Netflix film that crudely exposes the face of the wars in Africa and the false poverty that has been created by U.S. and other Western imperialist governments spearheading a corporate plan to rob the richest continent on earth of its natural resources.
The same situation is going on all over Africa, Latin America and Asia in the diamond and oil rich regions and areas filled with other natural resources that the corporate elite and banksters want.
The more I write, the more I wonder why did I expect Elba to use the platform to say something bigger? In what role has he stood for something? He didn’t stand for anything but a stereotypical drug dealing businessman in The Wire and a thinly cloaked propaganda puppet for the U.S. military in the “Avenger” movie that came out earlier this year.
He was applauded by some in the mainstream for playing Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Who truly is Mandela behind that father-of-the-country persona? In order to understand why big movies are made about Mandela, we have to understand who Nelson Mandela turned out to be toward the end of his life.
Although Mandela was an African National Congress political prisoner in South Africa for the same amount of time as the late Black Panther Geronimo Ji Jaga, 27 years, when he was released and almost immediately became the president of South Africa, he effectively absolved his country’s colonial enemies of genocidal murder with his Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Why would a dignified Black person who knows the history treat this man as a hero to African people?
From a political cinematic standpoint, “Beasts of No Nation” follows the same road as many Black targeted Hollywood funded films do, when they effeminized the two most dominant Black males in the film. There was no surprise there. It reminds me of the “Madea” films, Lee Daniels’ “Empire,” and Shawn and Marlon Wayans in numerous roles.
From an internationalist political standpoint, I would like to hear more stories from the perspective of the pawns of war like “Beasts of No Nation” that use the words capitalist, imperialism, world order, the West, Britain, the U.S., Israel, France, Canada, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Germany, colonial masters and the like. Director Cary Fukunaga missed a prime opportunity that could have helped his movie stand out from being just another child-soldier-in-Africa movie to being a progressive classic.
From a political cinematic standpoint, “Beasts of No Nation” follows the same road as many Black targeted Hollywood funded films do.
Otherwise the film is aesthetically beautifully shot. It is well written with the exception of what I have already mentioned. The acting was superb and captured the complex closeness and distance that the child soldiers had to have to survive in an environment where you are stripped of everything you love and trained to fight to literally survive and for a bit of sick glory, a result of brainwashing.
I would give this movie a C-. Like the movie “Precious,” it will give more psychological comfort to white people than Blacks. If you are an Elba fan, you may like the film because you are not used to seeing him and you could care less if he plays pro-Black characters in movies. I think movies like “Sankofa,” “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” “The Battle of Algiers,” “Njinga: Queen of Angola,” “Bandit Queen,” “Django” and “Operation Small Axe” reflect more of what I believe we should be watching and making. And these are the standard that I hold up as the benchmark for Black filmmaking in the U.S.
To put it in a sentence, aesthetically the movie is beautiful, but politically it leaves a hell of a lot to be desired.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.