Sankofa Analysis

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Sankofa- Analysis “Sprits of the dead rise up and claim your bird of passage. From Surinam, Brazil, Jamaica, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama, rise up…” these were the ominous words that were spoken at the beginning of the movie Sankofa. The historical fiction movie directed by Haile Gerima is very captivating. Using the Black Nationalist Movement as an inspiration for all of his movies, he created the theme of ‘the return’ the ‘journey’. Born and raised in Ethiopia, he realized that his people “began to worship Europeans as the providers of the new science and technology that’s going to elevate society.” “Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best and worst of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated. I can infer that Gerima also wanted his people to go back to their roots and learn things that would benefit them and also empower them. Gerima is very strategic in the way he transitions from one scent to another which makes the film very unique. He uses music and images as well as background voices. For example, in the beginning of the movie, he uses the sounds of Sankofa’s drums as well as the image of the Virgin Mary, to show Joe’s internal conflict. It is a very difficult technique to use, which shows that Gerima is a very skilled filmmaker. Sankofa shows us that culture can never be preserved if we don’t go back and trace our roots. This intriguing plot follows a young woman’s journey to find herself through the histories of her past. Mona journeys back in time where she becomes a house slave on the Lafayette plantation. The movie shows the tension between house and Field slaves, especially in Joe.
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