Monday, January 31, 2011

Brazza ou l'épopée du Congo

FR 1939. D: Léon Poirier. CAST: Robert Darène (Brazza), Thomy Bourdelle (Stanley), Odette Barencey (La Colombe), Jean Galland (Léopold II), Jean Daurand (Le quartier-maître Hamon), Pierre Vernet (Le docteur Ballay), Jean Worms (L'amiral de Montaignac), Langlois (Gambetta), René Fleur (Clémenceau), René Navarre (Jules Ferry). 94 min. English subtitles / sottotitoli italiani
    Bonus: - Brazza décrypté, par Eric Deroo. - Paroles de Batéké, par Dhavy Gantsou et Alain Onkani. - Chez les Anthropophages, de Lortac et Maleva. © 2006 Les Documents Cinématographiques / Ekwata Productions. Dvd viewed at home in Helsinki, 31 Jan 2011

Dvd cover presentation: "Brazza is the story of the exploration of what will become French Equatorial Africa, the story of a literally barefoot idealist, French by choice rather than by birth, set on spreading the Republican gospel of civilization, of abolishing slavery, confronting a world of ruffians, (then already rich Anglo-Saxons), a lay missionary perfectly played by Robert Darène. The storyteller is another idealist, Léon Poirier, proud of his sobriquet "The African". A story so full of candour may bring out disbelieving smiles, if not outright anger. It is therefore particularly interesting to listen to the powerful and scathing analysis presented by Eric Deroo, a specialist on colonial history. And, finally, comments by two Batékés who, in spite of their witty and sometimes angry analysis of the film, admit to feeling a measure of respect for the character of Brazza."

A colonial film, now offensive, can be fascinating seen with a critical eye. There is a good definition of light in this historically valuable publication. One can see even in Brazza Léon Poirier's mastery of documentary film-making, although this is not one of his best works. The interior scenes of this costume epic are less inspired.

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