The first time I say this poster, Burs and I were walking out of the cinema after seeing Looper and there across the wall was a poster for Tarantino’s new film. I hadn’t heard anything about it. And that was the first time I’d seen the poster. But seeing as how I’ve seen every Tarantino movie, I immediately got excited to see this one.
Even though it looks like a western. And I hate westerns. But it’s a Tarantino film and I have to see it. I penciled in January 18th in my mental diary and began looking forward to the date.
Then the reviews and comments about the movie began to enter my stream and I finally found out what the subject of the films was – Slavery. I began to read reviews about another movie about slavery being made. I was sent comments cursing out Tarantino for even attempting to tell the story of a black slave. I read op-ed pieces about the experience of being a black man watching the movie in a room of white people. I read a diatribe from a white reporter belittling black people sensitivities to movie and its subject matter.
A lot of people had a great deal to say on the subject.
And yet, in the UK, it’s hard to find any information on this movie. At all. Ask someone about it and they, like me, are just excited that there’s a new Tarantino flick. Being black and from America, I’ve had a few conversations with people about it and the over- whelming sentiment is that they’re all – white or black – amazed at how fresh the slavery wound still seems to be for Americans.
Which leads me to explaining, not for the first time in my lifetime, that the history of American slavery isn’t my history*. And that though I’m amazed at how fresh the wound is for some, I can understand it. After all, the oldest American died only two weeks ago but I believe that she was born in 1898 and though slavery was suppose to be abolished in 1865, there are some records that claim it should be written as 1928 instead (because people don’t change their ways too quickly). There are people my age who listened to stories being told by their grandparents which helped keep the wounds fresh, even after all these years.
All that to say how incredibly refreshing it is to not be in New York having heated discussions about the weight of the film on society today. How amazing to have be just a film. A film telling a story of years gone by. A film using flourishes to make an interesting and visually captivating story. Because, nearly everyone I’ve spoken to in London, sees it as just that. Slavery, on their home turf, isn’t their history either (of course, Burs does note that, Britons did partake in slavery but only on other peoples soil, never their own. Which doesn’t make them better, just a wee bit smarter).
So I’m going to see it. Most likely in a theater where I’ll be one of maybe five black people in there, sitting beside my Scottish (read: very white) husband. And I will enjoy Tarantino’s cinematic genius for what it is.
*My family and several generations back from that stem from Haiti. Which became a free country from French rule in 1806. And yes, the generations before them probably were brought to the island of Haiti via slave ships but there’s only so many generations I can keep count of, so anything that happened before either of my grandmothers, I don’t count as my own. And since both of the matriarchs, on either side, were born in the early 1900s on the island of Haiti, that is where my story begins.