Addio zio Tom (Goodbye Uncle Tom) (1972)
Addio zio Tom (Goodbye Uncle Tom) (1972)
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Italian filmmakers travel back in time to make a scathing documentary about slavery in the American South. With underage rape, teeth knocked out for force feeding, mass enemas, massacres of both blacks and whites, bizarre comedy routines, and characters speaking lines from actual pro-slavery texts of the 1800s, this experiment from the makers of MONDO CANE is a baffling mix of tasteless exploitation and biting satire.
A disturbing, super exploitative look on slavery. It's style is possibly the only thing that kept me watching and finding something worthwhile. Within the first 6 minutes I was disturbed when a dinner guest offered food scraps to slave children underneath the dining table as though they were dogs. Right away we're thrown into a bizarre world that isn't necessarily historically accurate or realistic for that matter, but effective in what I believe the film was trying to do. Firstly, it's exploitation, and what is filmed is disgusting and stylized as a grindhouse feature. It doesn't show the true face of slavery as it's tagline suggests, but instead takes it to levels beyond where our nightmares take us - a level of which only true sadists could imagine. No one alive can honestly portray the horrors of slavery, though when I think of it I look at Roots as a realistic view (save for all the melodramatic acting), and this film, and I can't stress it enough, is no where near what slavery has ever been recorded to be like (and the premise of Italians going back in time to make a documentary about it doesn't necessarily lead one to believe what they are watching is going to be realistic). The version of the film I saw was poorly dubbed, but oddly enough that made the whole experience much more of an uneasy one. The camerawork is constantly zooming in and out and it all gets pretty nauseating after a while, but I suspect that was the point. However one thing which was brilliant about this film was the music - it totally juxtaposes every disturbing aspect as it is beautiful sounding and peaceful (the song "Oh My Love" comes from this film and is used in the more recent film "Drive"). The composer, Riz Ortolani, who also did the score for Cannibal Holocaust, seems to be a master at this. Really, I saw this film because according to many people it is very disturbing, and some even say it's the most disturbing film ever made. I'm a person who enjoys testing myself to see if such things are true. I can' t say it's the most disturbing film ever made, but the relentlessness in this film's violence and imagery is absolutely disgusting and that mixed with a peaceful score easily makes this one of the most disturbing films ever made. But not only is this film disturbing, it's also well made, and something about it's style and exploitative qualities makes it nightmarishly surreal, and that is what makes it, if anything, worth seeing; simply for the experience.
Every American should see this??? Not exactly a "humanitarian masterpiece" as someone else said (yeah right!). More like cryptic super-exploitation. This is wildly, hilariously, rollickingly misguided pseudo-history at best. Outright race-baiting at worst. Made by the sleazoids who barfed up "Africa Addios" (giving Africans their own country back so soon just wasn't the right idea, was it!!), a film that featured the genuinely bizarre white South African girls on trampolines montage. A fervent call-to-arms for African-Americans made by white Europeans must inherently ring false, I am afraid. (we enslaved you. kill us!) Manages to be both numbing and completely, hideously insulting at the same time. The film is, under its very "SO racist it isn't being racist" exterior a sly work of racism. Presents blacks as nothing more than animals and savages, capable only of violence or submission to the will of whites. All the while remaining mute and mindless. No African-American in the film is presented as having a personality, substance, or intelligence. Every white all but glows. Every caucasian is a verbose, mercurial, immaculate sprite. That said, the film does (I would assume) approximate the way Africans were treated during the slave era more closely than other films. In that respect it deserves respect. The conditions are shown as filthy, disgusting, cruel. Every imaginable indignity is portrayed (and some you probably could not imagine). However, the film does have some power. The camera work is very inventive and the directors handle some of the chaotic scenes around the plantation very well. Some of the imagery is genuinely striking. There's a general feeling of chaos that comes through that's very effective. I'm not sure what the point is. But it's effective. Anyway, see the movie if you really want to be grossed out and insulted. File this one under SUPER exploitation. The directors may have had good intentions when they started out, but I think they just lost it when they got onto the set and decided to see how far out they could go. And no one, it seemed, was around to tell them to tone it down or put on the breaks. This is up there with Cannibal Holocaust and Men Behind the Sun. It's that sort of a deal. But don't kid yourselves, this AIN'T no humanitarian masterpiece.
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