‘Antebellum’: The social thriller you must see – The Namibian

'Antebellum': The social thriller you must see - The Namibian
'Antebellum': The social thriller you must see - The Namibian

Africa-PressNamibia. WHAT. Did. I. Just. Watch?? Honestly, my mind was perplexed for the first half of viewing this movie called ‘Antebellum’, because so much was just not making sense.

At first you are like, is this a period film? Then, you are wondering if it is about time travel. Then you start to consider that the whole universe might be broken inside this film, to have modern technology where and when it should not be, and to have the lead character jumping back and forth between time.Janelle MonĂ¡e magnificently takes on the role of an unwilling cotton-picking slave who is concocting a scheme to flee from her reality, and free her fellow captives. Then suddenly it jumps forward to the present and this same person is now an author and activist, fighting racism and raising a family in typical suburban fashion. It is a stark contrast to the person she plays in the beginning of the film and you get the sense that either some serious spacetime continuum bending is happening, or something deep, dark and sinister is afoot.As you start piecing together the little clues, director/writer duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz left for us, you see the true purpose of the movie come to light; the importance of understanding the power of symbolism. What we get from the antagonists of the film is that what we honour, remember and re-enact has the power to inflict real-life harm by upholding structures that are bigoted in some way.What the film seems to be saying is that we need not only to end racism, but also destroy and ban its symbols, statues, holidays, etc. Just as one of the first scenes of ‘Antebellum’ contains the raising of the Confederate flag, allowing such hateful symbols to remain long after they have been abolished in name gives them power.The movie further shows the lengths white supremacy will go to flourish, and how the average man on the street could be kidnapping and brutalising black people for sport over the weekend. The movie is a mind bender. You will scratch your head every five minutes for the first part of it, then sit through the rest with your mouth agape and your brain thoroughly exercised.It is fantastic. And the cast deliver the story so well. A story of people fighting for some form of dignity, of trying your best to undo the harm of the past while it is still allowed to fester and of finding a light at the end of the tunnel. This is a movie you will want to watch for a second time immediately upon finishing it, to see all the clues you may have missed that were pointing out a glaring problem.It will have you sitting down and thinking about the brilliance of costume design, of sound scoring and how the tiniest bit of specific colour grading can make a huge difference. This was a film that was hard to review without revealing too much about it because as it unveils itself to you, you will be glad to have been able to experience it fully.Here is my advice. Do not watch the trailer. Do not read any more reviews. Just stream this 105-minute social thriller, sit back and enjoy.* Anne Hambuda is a poet, writer and social commentator from Windhoek, Namibia.


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