Ten Best Anti-Colonialist Movies — I


Colonialism was a system of conquering an independent territory for extracting their mineral resources such as gold and silver, or for exploiting the native’s labor. The history of making colonies goes as far back as 10th century B.C. However, the year 1492 (the discovery of America and the sea route to the Far East) marks a watershed in modern colonialism. Most of the initial, colonially set cinema from the west had what you might call the point-of-view difficulties.  Critically acclaimed movies like ‘Zulu’, ‘Gunga Din’ tried to express the notion that there was something heroic and strong about the British colonial expansion. Even though, these kinds of movies had superbly choreographed action sequences, it simply portrayed the natives as blood-thirsty savages. Nonetheless, there were really excellent treatments, zeroing in on the independence movements of the colonies. These films stampeded the fantasies of colonialism and brought out the real horrors of colonialism. The movies in this list are the ones, which took discerning views on colonialism. If I have missed out any good movies in the list, please mention it in the comments section.


Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (2011)


Made by Taiwanese director, Wei Te-sheng depicts Taiwan’s half-century history of Japanese colonial rule from the point of view of a fierce tribe of indigenous headhunters. Budgeted at $25 million, the movie was released in its home territory as a two-part, four-hour version and an international edit of 150 minutes was played in the Venice Film Festival. It was shot on stunning jungle locations and it best it offers a fascinating anthropological look on the aboriginal cultures. “Warriors of a Rainbow” shows highest number of graphic beheadings in a film, although it is faithful historical depiction.


Avatar (2009)


James Cameron’s epic 3-D film pushed the film genre to the extreme limits of technical possibility. Although subtext isn’t subtle, we know that it’s also about conquest and colonization of Indigenous peoples. The movie was highly criticized for being white man’s fantasy of redemption, but at the same time, it contributes to a popular delegitimization of American imperialism. Despite some commonly repeated themes like ‘white savior’, Avatar carried a number of important themes in a way that allowed people (those who were never familiar about indigenous situation) to understand some of the elements of Indigenous struggles.


Lagaan (2001)


Vastly Entertaining, Academy Award nominee (for best foreign-language) film, “Lagaan” takes place in 1893, in a small Indian village (beset by drought), whose people beg to be exempt from the heavy taxes of their British rulers. A sneering local British commander challenges the townspeople to a game of English cricket: if they win, the tax will be repealed; if they lose it will be tripled. The film takes the typical Hollywood sports formula and also dwells in an arch-world of archetypes, but its cultural origins remain intact. It loudly commented on the ailments of colonial tax, religion and the Indian caste system.


Brave Heart (1995)


Set in the medieval Scotland, Mel Gibson’s hugely popular film focused colonialism closer to its home and viewed by many as an anti-English film. It cast the image of familiar English villain as an oppressor of both non-Whites and Whites. Heavy-metal-haired Scottish guy William Wallace gets fed up with those English people, treading on his home land. Although, the film went some way beyond celebrating Wallace’s resistance to English desires (lot of historical inaccuracies), it packs an extraordinary amount of emotion into the story and succeeds in getting its ultimate message across without question.


Dances with the Wolves (1990)


Kevin Costner’s seven Oscar winning epic film is about a white Union soldier stationed on the Indian frontier who undergoes a political transformation. He slowly realizes that the Native Americans his militia intends to kill are not the uncivilized savages they were portrayed to be, but have a rich civilization in many ways superior to his own. From beginning to end, it is a perfect, exquisite reenactment of the whole colonial enterprise in America. It introduced an entire generation of movie lovers to a certain amount of historical accuracy in terms of the American complicated colonial history.

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