Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North

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50%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 6

58%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 128
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Movie Info

Descendants of the largest slave-trading family in early America face their past.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (3)

  • It would be as funny as a Christopher Guest mockumentary if it weren't also so sad.

    January 16, 2009 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • A courageous scab-ripper of a tale about slavery, white privilege and original sin.

    February 1, 2008

    John Anderson

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Too frequently settles into a comfortable travelogue groove.

    January 21, 2011 | Full Review…
  • A tiresome exercise in self-righteousness and self-indulgence.

    February 8, 2009 | Rating: 1/5
  • An eye-opening caravan undertaken by some refreshingly honest whites willing to revisit their slaveowning legacy and the devastation left in its wake.

    June 22, 2008 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • A truth is stranger than fiction tale of despicable blue blood deeds buried in American slave roots, and touching on unspeakable cruelty, corruption, class oppression, greed, identity theft, global crime scenes, and the dismal falsification of history.

    June 4, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North

  • Nov 14, 2011
    Racism is a terrible thing. It permeates every living person, as well as most points in human history. It is, unfortunately, a natural feeling, to treat people who are different differently, often in a negative way. And no one is immune to these emotions. However, go back 200 years or so, and you would likely find that racism was not treated as a blemish on the human race, but as a hugely successful business venture. Blacks, good, NORMAL human beings, were traded for rum, grain, and hats. They were then chained to the inside walls of ships, brought to Cuba or the U.S. or somewhere, and forced to do manual labor in service of their lazy and usually white masters. This much we already know. The film then tries to turn the tables on the viewers by revealing that the north was a haven for the slave trade back in the 19th century, and that Bristol, just down the road, was the center of the center. Surprised? I was not. I don't know about the rest of you, but in high school, I learned that slaves were "employed" and traded all across the country, including up here. However, that is the hook of the film. The point is this: us, white, white-collar, average Americans should hate ourselves for the atrocities we committed against blacks all those years ago. But, people nowadays being what they are, that is not terribly likely. Ask the average man on the street what he thinks about slavery, and he will, naturally, reply that it was a horrible crime. It was. However, the film stresses that people of this generation, and many future ones, should regret what happened two centuries ago. The film is dead wrong. We, students of RWU and beyond, did not do anything to warrant the sort of mass regret the movie demands. The actual movie follows a handful of modern day descendents of one of the most successful slave traders in Rhode Island. Naturally, they feel guilt over their family's crimes. They go to Africa to try to talk to those whose ancestors were there at the important time. We are clear;y supposed to feel sympathetic for those whom they engage, as they were the victims. However, the film turns that upside down, too. Depicting blacks chastising them for things they are by no means directly responsible for, the film instead makes the family more sympathetic than their so-called victims. I am fully expecting this opinion to be a controversial one, as racism is, has always been and will be a touchy subject for almost everyone. The film does make some very good points, like how we are benefiting from slave labor as we speak, buying goods made by underpaid workers who are barely able to keep their families fed. That is terrible, and something that truly should not be. However, the fact of the matter is that the films subject matter is part of the far away past. And, as far as slavery is concerned, so are our thoughts.
    Andy S Super Reviewer

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