Cert 15 | ★★★★☆
The first revelation in Concerning Violence is that Lauryn Hill’s been doing more with her days than massacring her back catalogue and signing up to tax evasion schemes. She provides the soulful voiceover for this documentary about the end of colonial rule in Africa, drawing on text from pioneering anti-colonial thinker Frantz Fanon. Her narration rolls over archival footage of the liberation struggles on the continent which rocked the world order half a century ago.
The film’s second revelation is the eye-opening footage. Swedish director Göran Olsson has trawled through old television reels and turned up gold. We witness men sniping cattle, a young Mugabe calling for racial harmony, an amputee mother suckling her amputee child. Fanon’s words give the narrative a cerebral framework, but Concerning Violence is a strongly visual film, dependent on brutal imagery to illustrate Fanon’s point: that violent colonial regimes can only be overcome with violence.
It is also a difficult film. Olsson groups his footage into loosely themed chapters, rather than a linear story, and historical context is scant. It’s not made easier by rhetorical excesses in Fanon’s text that would make Russell Brand blush. But viewers who are willing to engage will be rewarded with an incendiary study of a fascinating subject.