...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

August 10, 2006

Manderlay - 6

Continuing right where we left off in Dogville, the first of Lars von Trier's USA trilogy, Grace (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and her father (now Willem Dufoe) now enter Alabama having left Colorado and the ugliness of that affair (This film also continues with the same narrator and set design). It turns out that the south is not really that much better. Manderlay is a cotton plantation that has a strict slavery still going on. Grace is appalled and just like Dogville she needs to see if she can save this small community. The Matriarch of the plantation dies soon after Grace's arrival and the slaves are given their freedom. Always easier said than done. Grace soon realizes that she will have to live among the community while it adjusts to the law of no law. American democracy is soon taught and the time of day is put to a vote. It is now five to two in the afternoon. The white plantation owners are now under contract for work, and a true community starts to form, a dust storm working as a unifying disaster. At usual it is the assumptions, like a hinge, that the plot turns on. No law means no freedom, what an interesting truth. Grace soon learns the "slaves" are complicite in their own oppression or freedom, depending on where your standing. Solutions are rarely a reversal of problems, rather they have to change the reality in which the problem exists. Seeing no end to the problem and with herself partly to blame she flees to Wasington.
An interesting commentary on race that will take me sometime to process. I haven't found Spike Lee's response to this film, but I'd be interested in seeing the conversation, especially in relation to his film Bamboozled.

No comments: