Sometimes the magic of movies gives you an overwhelming amount of emotion by bringing you joy, fear, or sorrow. Sometimes, movies offer a great old-fashioned learning experience. For someone who does not know a thing about African politics in the early 1960s, “Lumumba” is a movie that is just dying to explain it all.
Patrice Lumumba (played by Eriq Ebouaney) was a postal clerk and beer salesman, who represented the Congo (controlled by Belgium) in the Pan-African Conference in Accra. Following that, the Congo declared independence from Belgium and Lumumba became the country’s first Prime Minister. The position lasted a littel over two months before Belgian troops intervened and Lumumba was dismissed and executed.
Directed by Raoul Peck and written by Peck and the French screenwriter Pascal Bonitzer, the film struggles to compress the important events in the life of an important man into just two hours.
“Scene after scene, “Lumubma” is made up of frenzied meetings, latenight paperwork sessions, passionate speeches, and hastily made decisions,” said Clark Atlanta University sophomore Tacara Moss. “Each scene moves quickly and is cut together tightly. In all the intense excitement, we never really get an idea of who Lumumba is,” continued Moss.
Others believe that is helpful, and even necessary, to make such a fast-moving portrait in order to get in all the pertinent details, but it is equally necessary to show a couple of scens of Lumumba simply reflecting, doing nothing, and living.
... audience is unaware at the time of the scene, but the concentration of the movie is really the focal point of this ... he plays in the snow. The entire movie is affected by this one scene that continues with the boy in the middle ... . These points are proved throughout the movie, but I believe that this mise-en-scene is the most powerful of them all ...
“Lumumba never seems to be affected personally by everything that happens to him,” said Clark Atlanta University sophomore Amber Ellis. “He’s definitly affected politically and his actions show this, but we never see him thinking about what would have happened if he had remained a beer salesman or if he and his wife had simply moved away and lived a quiet life,” Ellis continued.
Yet, some think that this is a small complaint, as the Lumumba that appears on the screen is still a powerful portrait and provides more than enough material for someone who knows nothing about him.
“Not a single moment in the movie seems false,” said Clark Atlanta University sophomore Carma Graham. “I now know at least a lot more than I did before about the legend, the hero, and the leader Lumumba.”