Thoughts On: Lumumba - Political/Historical > Drama/Character


Lumumba - Political/Historical > Drama/Character

Thoughts On: Lumumba (2000)

Made by the Haitian director, Raoul Peck, this will be Haiti's representative for the series.

What is that a political/historical film should do? In my estimation, it should attempt to dramatise a factual story whilst using cinematic language and the power of narrative to convey the importance and place of the content. Lumumba attempts to present the story of Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo who, after a mere few months, was assassinated by a Belgian execution squad and Congolese accomplices. (You can read more about this here). Despite this honourable attempt to present a significant piece of world history, Lumumba fails as a political/historical film in my view.

Not only does this incoherently present the known (and maybe even speculated) facts of history, but there is also very little drama. Lumumba is a selection of speeches, parties, meetings and political garb. Without strong characterisation, without drama, without clarity, without conveying the magnitude and significance of the on-going events, without pull, Lumumba is a loose history told through moving pictures. Suffice to say that I found it incredibly hard to sink into this film, to engage with its characters and the history. Some more reading may have benefited my understanding, but, I would be lying if I were to tell you I paid much attention to this at all. A dry struggle from its first minute, Lumumba is, in my view, irredeemably bland.

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