2009. Haiti/France. Raoul Peck. 107 min.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 4:30 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
2009. Haiti/France. Directed by Raoul Peck. Written by Peck, Jean-René Lemoine. With Zinedine Soualem, Sonia Rolland, Mireille Métellus, Jimmy Jean-Louis. Peck's film transplants Alexander Sokurov’s psychological investigation into Hitler’s last days, Moloch (1999), into his own indictment of a deluded, murderous Haitian despot, Moloch Tropical. Yet although the setting (a secluded mountaintop castle) and circumstances (a monstrous leader loses his last battle on the home front surrounded by his few remaining devoted followers) are similar, the film's overall sensibility couldn’t be more different. Peck brilliantly makes the film his own, and his despot is a uniquely tropical scourge. Gorgeously photographed and played as Shakespeare with a broad stroke of satire and symbolic pomp, the film is both vastly entertaining and nightmarishly terrifying. The image of the dictator, reportedly based on nineteenth-century Haitian ruler Henri-Christophe (with telling similarities to later Haitian leaders), becomes an indictment of political collusion and the corrupting force of power everywhere. Peck's barely contained rage, mounting sense of absurdity, and synthesis of political analysis, symbolic art, and tragedy make this a truly unique cinematic experience. In Creole, French, English; English subtitles. 107 min.