Christian Lara’s “1802: Freedom Now” tells the story of the war between the black inhabitants of Guadeloupe (French West Indies) and Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. In the film, the French wanted to reestablish slavery for blacks. In turn, the blacks fought back. In the end of the film, the fate of each character was heroic, yet dreadful.
During the Q&A portion of this film, an audience member told the Director that he was glad to learn about France’s black history. Mr. Lara responded with what I thought was the most touching, and significant response.
By way of his translator (he spoke French), he said this film was not just his family’s history, France’s black history, Guadeloupe’s history, but that this film was black history. After hearing those words from his mouth, my eyes watered, because I too, tend to think singular in regard to black history.
I don’t claim ownership of other nations black history, yet it is indeed my(our) history. The fact is that this film is a part of me (us), although I am a black person of Africans decent living in America.
The film begins with French military officials declaring to kill off the black inhabitants of Guadeloupe. I felt that it was unclear to me why the blacks were specifically targeted to kill. I know that many S&A readers may be history buffs, I wanted the film to educate me or at least explain to me as an American why did the French military want these black people to die? I feel that the film did not do a great job in developing the goal of the French military. I completely understood the goal of the blacks in the film.
There was this one scene in the film where all of the black women of the island were battling the French army. It was a great scene; the imagery was amazing, however, it would have been great to see the reason behind this scene. The film did not clearly state why women were battling a war when they had plenty of men to battle.
The performances of all the actors in the film were top notch. I was blown away. The lead actors were just downright amazing.
The film ended with individual stories that explained the demise of each black solider that fought. For me, these stories symbolize a war that they fought and lost, but we must end or continue in our own way.