59th London Film Festival Day 5

Two more films, I am not sure I have the stamina for three films a day now, I returned my evening ticket to someone in the “stand-by” queue!

11 RAn American film from the THRILL Section by Director Atom Egoyan called Remember. Two elderly men meet in an old people’s home. (Do you remember Aimée et Jaguar?) Zev (Christopher Plummer) is physically well but is suffering from dementia, Max (Martin Landau) is wheelchair bound, but greets Zev as an old fellow sufferer from the camps. On the death of his wife Ruth, Zev’s condition worsens somewhat, but Max sends him off to seek out a man he has identified as a camp guard. Unfortunately, there are four Germans living in the United States and Canada under the same (and presumably assumed) names, variously played by Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Prochnow and Heinz Lieven, there is another who has already died but Zev has an encounter with his son.

This film has a great cast, a compelling, if unlikely, story and will be praised and damned in equal measure, I suspect. It is controversial and to my mind, irresponsible. Both the screenwriter and the director have a back-story of their own that might be a justification for making this film the way it is; many people with a real back-story belonging to the characters in this film may agree with the premise (may even wish they had thought of it themselves) and many, many people will ask – can you justify another story about The Holocaust which has no basis in believable fact?

11 GCThe second film of the day was equally hard hitting. Another Danish film with a searing look at Danish history. Gold Coast comes from the JOURNEY Section and covers a short period towards the end of a period when the Danes controlled a section of Africa’s west coast, the Gold Coast in fact. Our main character is called Wulff, (Jakob Ofterbro) he is a visionary plantsman who arrives in Africa with the aim of starting a coffee plantation. We meet him first in dire circumstances, and then backtrack a few years to his arrival in 1836, full of joy and hope.

What he finds though is rather different. Although forbidden by decree, he discovers that the slave trade continues (who knew that the Danish Government were involved, heavily committed in fact, to the slave trade? Not many of today’s Danes, it would appear.) After an encounter with a hostile Ashanti people, Wulff travels inland to another outpost of Danish sovereignty to meet Richter (Wakefield Achuaku), Richter in spite of his name has strong ties with the Ashanti (the actor’s surname gives you a clue); an agreement is reached that Wulff will no longer be harassed by the Ashanti, so his project thrives. But recovering from a fever, he sees from the walls of Christianberg, a slave trading mission.  Distraught he goes to the Governor and gets permission to take action against Richter. While this is taking place, the Governor dies and his place is assumed by another Dane, who recalls Wulff. Wulff chooses to ignore this summons, eventually successfuly raids the castle stronghold and releases the slaves and takes Richter back to the new Governor Dall.

This all goes wrong…but the colour of Richter’s skin in an important pointer to the realities of the slave trade, one which hardly ever gets a mention…

Apologies, I haven’t has time to proofread this.


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