Taking sides:

Lars Von Trier’s new film Manderlay is

a) A piece of sub-Brechtian theatricality masquerading as a sophisticated political film whose sophistication seems undercut by the fact that somewhere along the line Lars has got Gone With The Wind mixed up with Rebecca. The racial politics displayed in this “slaves they all love it really” movie would be insulting to someone who had seen one episode of Sesame Street, and it is no wonder that Nicole Kidman wanted no part of this sub-toytown excuse to say the N-word over and over. In reducing much of the political thrust into a last minute sexual thrust coupled with absolutely obvious kiddy dying plot developments he cheapens the validity of any point he may make of race relations, and the fact that his cast list stresses the white actors over the black prove that he is as guilty as anyone else in this racism. It would be unforgivebly long if it was any good, but being lousy and insulting just makes it worse. One can only imagine how long it would be in if John Hurt did not narrate the tale for us thickies in the style of a particularly patronising 1970’s Jackanory.


b) Hurt can really narrate any old shit and it come out smelling of roses. For all its infuriating patchiness Manderlay not only trumps Dogville in the entertaining stakes, it exposes Kidman as an actor (to be out acted by Richie Cunningham’s girl) as is just terrific entertainment from start to finish.


c) All of the above.