July 2001

Reviewed by Wilson Morales


Distributor:Zeitgeist Films Scene from Lumumba
Director:Raoul Peck
Produced By:Jacques Bidou
Cinematographer:Bernard Lutic
Music By:Jean-Claude Petit
Language:French with English Subtitles
Running Time:115 Minutes
Cast:Eric Ebouaney, Alex Descas, Maka Kotto, Theophile Sowie, Dieudonne Kabongo, Pascal N’ Zonzi

When President JFK was assassinated in 1963, it would take years and plenty of films to drum up conspiracy theories to solve the mystery of his death. Although history says that one man was responsible for this act, many people have their own opinions as to who else may have been involved. Some would even bet the farm that it had to do with politics. If that’s the case, this would be Scene from Lumumba nothing new to history for a similar situation occurred years earlier. In 1960 Patrice Lumumba was chosen as Congo’s first prime minister. Within less than a year, he would be assassinated with no body to be found. With over twenty years gone by and revelations about the killing brought out, Raoul Peck has directed a powerful and enlightening portrait of a man whose life was short lived, but his spirit lives on.

The film begins with the last glimpse of Lumumba (Eric Ebouaney). He is captured and lies somewhere unknown awaiting his fate. Flashbacking to the past, we see the progression of Lumumba from postal worker to salesman. While working to survive, he opposed the Belgium government and the treatment of his people. With rebellion growing, the Belgium government began negotiations with the National Congo Movement (NCM) to give the country back to the people. During the nation’s first independent election, Lumumba and his political party are voted into power. Almost immediately, he became the leading spokesman for not only Congo, but for most of the countries in Africa. It didn’t take long before Lumumba’s vision of a united Africa gained him more enemies than he could Scene from Lumumba handle. For one, the Belgium government didn’t want to rid themselves entirely from the country. And also, the CIA, who had U.S business to protect, supported Lumumba’s former friend Joseph Mobutu (Alex Descas) for his help. In 1961, like Judas, Lumumba was betrayed and the rest is history.

What makes this film so powerful is the portrayal of Lumumba by Eric Ebouaney. He plays the role of the doomed man with such passion and conviction. His acting is as good in this film as Denzel Washington’s performance in “Malcolm X”. The production values and cinematography of the film and feels very authentic. Peck had spent a great deal of time researching the life of Lumumba for he did a documentary of the man before making a feature film. He has envisioned Lumumba as a noble and wise. Much reading has to be done to get accurate description of the man for American History doesn’t say much. Like Jesus, Malcolm X, and MLK, Lumumba went down as a martyr for his people. Very recently, Congolese President Laurent Kabila was assassinated for following the beliefs of Lumumba. This political thriller is a powerful film that is well told and well acted.


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