[Marxism] Fwd: New York African Diaspora International Film Festival 2016 | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Nov 26 13:32:52 MST 2016

As it happens, you can still see a biopic about the man whose feats CLR 
James celebrated in “The Black Jacobins” as part of the NYADIFF. Made 
for French TV in a two-part series in 2012 and directed by Phillipe 
Niang, a Frenchman of Senegalese heritage, this is a tightly paced 
historical drama with excellent performances that should be on the “must 
see” list of anybody trying to understand the difficulties of the 
colonial revolution. In many ways, the struggle led by Toussaint 
Louverture prefigured the chaos in Syria today with its intractable 
divisions and meddling by outside powers.

Niang could have easily made a film that was 1800 minutes long rather 
than 180 and it still would have only scratched the surface of the 
Haitian revolution—or more properly speaking the one that occurred on 
the western half of the island called Hispaniola that was divided 
between Spanish and French rule. Known as Saint-Domingue, it was the 
Pearl of the Antilles to the French and just as key to the mother 
country’s prosperity as Jamaica was to the British.

When the rebellion began in 1791, Louverture made tactical alliances 
first with the Spanish and then with the French but only in the 
interests of the underlying principle of abolishing slavery. Jimmy 
Jean-Louis, a Haitian actor who turns in a tour de force performance of 
Louverture, is adept at portraying the complex relationship between his 
character and all the elites he is forced to compromise with in order to 
achieve his ultimate goal. Not only does he have to deal with outside 
powers, he has to balance clashing interests in Saint-Domingue, 
including those of the slaves, the Mulattos (the term used by the 
characters in the film as was the case historically) and the white 
plantation owners—some of whom were British.


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