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John Akomfrah's Seminal 1996 Work On Afrofuturism ('The Last Angel Of History') Now On Commercial DVD

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 25, 2012 8:43 PM
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The Last Angel of History is a John Akomfrah, intensely cerebral, classic (although we could probably say that about most of his films; this one is less what I'd call *purely poetic* than say The Nine Muses); it tends to rate highly among those who've seen most of Akomfrah's body of work, and that rarely screens anymore.

An engaging examination of the relationships between Pan-African culture, music, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and computer technology, the Afrofuturist work, for awhile, wasn't even available to the public as a commercial purchase.

If you wanted to own it, you'd have had to be an educational institution, willing to spend $300 to pay for it!

As recently as the last time we wrote about the film, which was just over a year ago, it wasn't available to rent or purchase by the average consumer.

It screened here and there, although rarely in the USA, and mostly at educational institutions. So I doubt many have actually seen The Last Angel of History on the big screen, in a theatrical-like setting. 

I'm asked about it occasionally - especially by those who've only recently started to familiarize themselves with Akomfrah's work, but I've only been able to point them to the above pricey purchase option. 

There isn't a single John Akomfrah work on Netflix (in the USA anyway); although Amazon.com carries 1 film on DVD, and 2 on VHS (remember that format?). The 2 that are on VHS are for sale via resellers; so not directly from Amazon. 

But it's the one that's on DVD that I'd like to draw your attention to - the recently released The Nine Muses, which did see a limited theatrical release here in the USA, and was released on DVD over this summer.

What I didn't realize, and thus failed to mention here on S&A, is that the DVD release of The Nine Muses, also happens to include 2 of Akomfrah's other films as special extras. And one of those 2 films is... The Last Angel Of History

So, there ya go folks!

The other film, by the way, is Seven Songs for Malcolm X (maybe the least esoteric of his works) which is also not a film that you'd easily be able to get your hands on.

But now you can own both, as well as Akomfrah's most recent commercial release, The Nine Muses. Three engrossing, cerebral, picturesque works from the visionary British-Ghanaian filmmaker, available, for commercial release, via Amazon.com, on DVD, courtesy of Icarus Films, for just $30.

If you're one of those who's interested/curious, click HERE to make your purchase. Now everybody can see it!

Of note, since it's what inspired this post, the 45-minute Last Angel Of History (initially released in 1996) - one of the most influential video-essays of the 1990s, influencing filmmakers and even inspiring conferences, novels and exhibitions - features segments with and/or about George ClintonSun RaDerek MayKodwo EshunNichelle NicholsDJ SpookyGoldie and many others.

Below are the intriguing first 8 minutes of it for a glimpse at what to expect:

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