Friday, December 28, 2007

Soaking It In: Daughters of the Dust

Daughters of the DustDaughters of the Dust (1991) by Julie Dash: 112 minutes, 5.6 IMDB, 87.5% fresh tomatoes

Daughters was a low point in the film fest. I didn't like it much; the cousinnephew actively hated it.

My notes:
  • 0:04:30 The cousinnephew spots a POV conflict between the people on the shore and the cross -- the camera angles just aren't right. It seems like the POV camera from the boat is actually a few feet in front of the boat, which seems like a bad piece of editing.
  • 0:25:00 I am not understanding a lot of this, so I turn to a Daughters of the Dust scene log for help. How the heck were we supposed to know that "[t]he bottles were a place for the ancestors' spirits to dwell and watch over the family," eh? If the film told us that, I missed it. If it didn't, shame on the film.
  • 0:35:00 "All that yellow, wasted." Huh?
  • 0:37:00 Following a Peazant women saying that Yellow Mary "must have come back for something", we see a fade to white then a fade in to a man (Eli?) on the beach. It seems to be telling us that Yellow Mary wants Eli, but I don't think that's the case. It's just confusing.
  • 0:58:30 I like this scene, in which we see snippets of traditional games and activities. It's OK that they don't show us the details and the rules; we get the idea. The lack of an explanation isn't a problem. Contrast that with the earlier bottle tree scene, in which we weren't given an explanation of the important of the bottles. In that previous case, the lack of explanation robbed the scene of its impact.
  • 1:22:00 Crib and tombstone showing dates (1866: first year of freedom, 1867: second year of freedom)
  • 1:26:55 The photographer shouts to everyone, asking them to remember Ibo Landing. Looks like he's departed from his original task of capturing the new and has instead taken on the task of documenting the old. Sounds like a filmmaker's statement, eh?

The cousinnephew summary:
  • I'd like never to see it again. That was hard for me to watch.
  • I'll give it: It had beautiful shots. Other than that I just wanted it to stop.
  • The music. It seems fitting, but there's just such a lameness to it. (He particularly disliked the overuse of chimes to indicate something magical happening.)
  • I just really didn't want Eula to continue with her speech.
  • I would rather see Bicyle Thief and 400 Blows many more times than watch Daughters of the Dust again.

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