In this chapter, the author writes about the violence against African people as it is shown in the films “Amistad” and “Beloved” and examines them from the perspective of trauma. Even though these pieces are not the only ones narrating about the enslavement of these people, their distinguishing characteristic is the effects of the Holocaust on the depicted ideas (Davis, 2000). According to Davis (2000), this topic is mainly discussed through the lens of memories of ex-slaves. In particular, these stories include those of the people sold in the American South. Hence, the efforts of Debbie Allen and Steven Spielberg allowed demonstrating the tragic events of “Amistad” to the world.
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The reliability of presented information in this film is highlighted by the descriptions from the standpoints of different people. Hence, the slaves on the ship, President Van Buren, the former president, and abolitionists are equally important for viewers (Davis, 2000). This drama develops into a story of legal issues related to slavery, the conflict of interests of political leaders, and personal freedoms (Davis, 2000). Its historical authenticity and numerous details of the case attract people and evoke their interest in the matter.
Another film, “Beloved,” is also a story of former slaves, which demonstrates the suffering of African people for whom death is often better than life in servitude. The decisions of a mother, who chose to kill her children instead of letting them follow her path, confirmed the dreadful circumstances of family life of this population group (Davis, 2000). Their alleged inferiority led to the problems, which lasted for generations, and it adds to the conflict of morality and politics of the government while depriving African Americans of hope in the past.
Davis, N. Z. (2000). Slaves on the screen: Film and historical vision. Harvard University Press.