Concerning Violence Screen 15 articles

Concerning Violence

2014

Concerning Violence Poster
  • Despite its textual basis and academic stamp of approval, Concerning Violence is of negligible value even within a limited educational context. It transmits a vision of The Wretched of the Earth as manifesto, not as the tortured but articulate cry of pain that is Fanon’s text. By simultaneously bleeding all the poetry out of the original and refusing to allow his frequently bloody images to communicate on their own, Olsson does justice to neither.

  • Of course, every one of the film’s 85 minutes addresses violence, but I, for one, am left a little fuzzy as to what it all adds up to, even though the overall structure of Concerning Violence is clearly intended to be more cohesive than that of Mixtape... [Concerning Violence is] fascinating but ultimately frustrating as an essay.

  • Concerning Violence seems more fit for classrooms and screenings within academic contexts than movie theaters, but Olsson's further veering into more scholarly terrain isn't a problem, in itself; it's that the straightforward, numbered structure plays as requisite historicism rather than revisionist or rambunctious poison-pen letter.

  • Fanon did see violence as a necessary tool in the fight against colonialism. But his thought has also been oversimplified, taken out of context and repurposed as a clenched-fist poster by people who have little interest its subtleties or its history. Such is the use it is put to in this film, which is less a thoughtful inquiry into certain very important subjects than sleek Scandinavian agit-prop that arrives four decades after its sell-by date.

  • Scenes showing maimed children and other consequences of violence are wrenching, though this is the sort of film in which concept overwhelms execution. In both Concerning Violence and Demonstration, any 20-minute stretch provides a near-representative sample of the whole.

  • A pulsing, echoing trumpet blast—repeated throughout—and some in-your-face political carnage identify Concerning Violence for what it is: a prickly, passionate call to arms... Finding purchase here will be valuable, especially when the takeaway is less a didactic sense of outrage than a more measured examination of the sacrifices people make to bring about change.

  • The compilation technique is reminiscent of the films of Emile de Antonio such as In the Year of the Pig and the effect is a bitter and blistering plea to revisit the history of a continent destroyed by colonization and even more so by the struggles to decolonize. The film succeeds in portraying the very breadth of colonial rule, a side of the story often consciously expurgated from the Western media stream.

  • Though Olsson is hell-bent on bringing Fanon's political and psychological insights to a wider audience, he isn't too much of a firebrand to operate on mere incendiary passion alone; he also wants to make sure we understand how Fanon's ideas can be applied to real-world history. In some ways, Olsson's method recalls the stylistic purity of Jean-Luc Godard at his most polemical.

  • The lack of context in the archival footage occasionally dilutes the power of the images... But in the end, Concerning Violence makes a strong case for Fanon’s thesis that colonialism “is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence.”

  • Mr. Olsson’s news clips are purposeful and bursting with interest (although Fanon’s major concern, Algeria, goes omitted). They’re used in harmony and occasionally in counterpoint to Fanon’s critique, which proclaims colonialism to be an annihilating force, and violence a necessary and liberating tool for the oppressed. But the energy here feels more like that of a lecture than of a film; it’s an analytical tonic that’s potent to the point of bitter.

  • The result of the film's unencumbered formalism and its use of archival footage shot from a specific point of view is a new "take" on Fanon's treatise, which is one that simultaneously educates and reminds the audience of its importance.

  • Though at first glance Concerning Violence may seem almost utilitarian in its stark, unfussy formalism, Olsson puts his personal stamp on Fanon’s work. Complementary passages from the text are narrated over the images by singer and activist Lauryn Hill, whose delivery – throaty and languid, but also somehow urgent and incantatory – seems designed to evoke the alacrity of the book’s writing.

  • Concerning Violence isn’t out to soothe its audience with platitudes about peace, love, and understanding. Its exploration of an entrenched system that breeds generations of oppression and violence is extremely upsetting yet still highly rewarding.

  • The aim here is not to provide answers about why this happens, but add further context about the legacy of mid-century African upheaval by examining these events through three lens at once (past, present, future), an inquisitive approach which solidifies this as great documentary work.

  • Concerning Violence asks nothing less of viewers than to consider the moral implications of killing for freedom. It is not an exhortation to combat. It’s an invitation to reflect on the ethical formulation that Fanon, in the twilight of his short life and with nothing left to lose, put purposefully to a readership that would long outlive him.

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