Socialist Worker

A black slave rebellion for the 1960s generation

by Judy Cox
Issue No. 1922

QUEIMADA, OR Burn!, has just been released on DVD (£13.99).

The film addresses the issues raised by the revolts of the 1960s against the Vietnam War, and against racism and colonialism.

Set on a 19th century Caribbean Island, the film shows black slaves rebelling against their colonial masters.

A British agent, played by Marlon Brando, stirs up the revolt but helps to limit its reach.

The slaves kick out their Portuguese masters, only to find them replaced by British ones just as brutal.

After a decade of suffering they are driven to a full-scale rebellion. This time they are out not for only for their country’s indepence, but for political and economic control of their society.

The tactics used by the British military forces to crush the revolt echo the tactics of the US forces in Vietnam, just as the plight of the slaves echoes that of colonised people in revolt.

The British military decide to burn and slaughter any peasants giving shelter to the rebels, destroying their villages and crops.

The rebels are eventually defeated. But their leader, played by a non-professional actor, shows a moral courage his genteel opponents can never achieve.

Queimada was directed by Gillo Pontocorvo, known as the modern-day Sergei Eisenstein, after the great Russian revolutionary film maker.

He made this after his other film of anti-imperialist revolt, The Battle of Algiers.

Both films are rooted in the anti-imperialist struggles of the 1960s, and retain their power and political commitment.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Sat 9 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1922
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.