“Goodbye, Uncle Tom is one of the most incendiary pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen, and yet it's been rarely seen since its debut in the early 70s. The movie may be tacky and offensive, but it will provoke a lot more discussion than almost any other movie you've seen.”
This is just one of the numerous internet responses to Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperis’ Goodbye Uncle Tom, possibly one of the most controversial and provocative films ever made about the evils of slavery. It has also been described as one of the most racist films ever made. The fact that the only black speaking parts are those of an ‘Uncle Tom,’ a pimp, and a mammy has only served to reinforce this belief.
Made in 1971 and filmed primarily in Haiti with the assistance of the authorities, the obvious lack of respect for the blacks who appear in the film make the genuine motives of the film-makers suspect.
Using actual letters and documentation of the time as its foundation, this pseudo-documentary retraces the horrors of the slave trade in pre-Civil War America and makes uncomfortable viewing for those who may have previously chosen to ignore the barbaric and sadistic evils of the trade.
The exploitative style in which this film was shot, coupled with the subject matter, at times makes even the most hardened cinema-goer cringe. The copious scenes of black sexuality and child nudity stretch the ethical boundaries of film to its limits.
Not surprisingly, most viewers have conflicting opinions about the film; while it certainly leaves its audience pondering the evils of slavery, it also creates confusion as to whether the film-makers' intentions were benign or derogatory.
Reviewed by: Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr.
Goodbye Uncle Tom is available through Blue Underground as part of the Mondo Cane Collection.