“Beasts of No Nation”

“Beasts of No Nation” is a 2015 feature film co-produced by and starring Idris Elba. It was shot mainly in Ghana. It seems to me in this modern times, that for a movie to be critically acclaimed it must have at least one of these three ingredients – sex, drugs or violence. Apart from the violence it portrays, the film together with many other similar ones like “Blood Diamonds” further damages Africa’s image by reinforcing the negative perception that people have about Africa.

The supposed beasts which the movie talks about turned out to be black Africans – child soldiers chanting, shooting civilians, throwing bombs and making a mockery of their own culture and traditions. This is what the average outsider already believes about Africa – a continent filled with bullets and bombs flying about in all directions – a dark continent where travelers and investors enter at their own risk. But is this really the whole story? Do people who have actually been to Africa give such accounts?

Many countries in Africa have never experienced civil war and are very peaceful yet rarely will a foreign film portray anything akin to that. Although living conditions in Africa, like anywhere else are not perfect, most African communities are very united and peaceful and typical African youths rarely do drugs. Suppose it was a movie portraying any city life in Africa, then of course we know every city in this world has its fair share of thuggery and violence – which is even something localized not continent wide.

Most people speak well of the artistic direction of “Beasts of No Nation” and I also think it’s really good, even better than “Blood Diamonds” but those who researched and wrote the story did not dig deep. There was violence and hooliganism in almost every scene. I guess it was all about commercial appeal and the box office, but not to correct any misconceptions about Africa although Idris Elba is a Sierra Leonean – Ghanaian by ancestry. I do perfectly understand the commercial appeal part of the whole project because the biggest challenge to filmmaking now is funding.

 

 

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