Monday, 21 April 2014

Half of a Yellow Sun: Nigerians get the last of it.

Half of a Yellow Sun Review
With the success of the book, hopes of the Half of a Yellow sun being a Success was very high and after watching the film, there is no disappointment. It’s screen play followed the book to the letter, perhaps it followed it too much that it takes the enjoyment of it as a 'film' away, and replaced it with the 'need to satisfy those who read the book'. If you did not read the book, before watching the film, you may feel a bit disillusioned. You may ask yourself, what exactly did I just watch? You might not get the crux of the movie.
This does not mean the film is not a good film. In fact production wise, it is probably the best film ever done in Nigeria. It should be, it costs over a Billion Naira to produce. 
(more after the cut)

It was in every aspect well made. The actors were all on point. Chiwetel Ejiofor played Odenigbo (revolutionary), a role which he pulled out perfectly, he even spoke English with a near perfect Igbo accent. Same went for Thandie Newton who played Olanna. Onyeka Owenu was also phenomenal. She took the role of a wicked mother in-law further than where Patience Ozokwor could. Also in the movie were, Genevieve Nnaji (Ms. Adebayo), OC Ukeje who really played a small role. But like they say, there are no small roles… Hakeem Kae-Kazim also played a small role as Captain Dutse, but his performance was memorable. You will never forget his wicked look as he pulled the trigger on any Igbo person in sight.
The film is about two sisters who returned from schooling in England to work in Nigeria just about when Eastern Nigeria was fighting for secession. One of the sisters, Olanna ,the heroine, moves in with her lover Odenigbo who is a staunch supporter of the state of Biafria. Odenigbo’s mother rejects Olanna which led him to infidelity. Olanna retaliates in a similar fashion, but the two remains together. Intrigues keep happening in the family as the civil war wages to a disappointing end for Odenigbo and the Igbos as a whole.
The work behind the scene was very well done. The sound was good, no humming generator sounds at the background. The sound tracks smartly followed the story. Even D’Banj made a song for the movie, "Bother You". Same goes for the lighting, since most of it was shot at the ultra-modern studio in Tinapa, Calabar, all these technical aspect were better controlled. But much Kudos to those behind the instruments.

As a director, Half Of A Yellow Sun is Biyi Bandele’s first major feature film, and it shows. Despite putting everything together, many parts of the movie looked more like a soap opera than a movie. There was a newsreel footage which intermittently shows the progress of the war, it was not well put together. You need to be a Nigerian who is vast on the war to understand it. It’s  scenes only picked bits and pieces of the lives of the characters, without having one straight line of inquiry. It is a good start for Bamidele though. There will be a long queue at Nigerian cinemas for this one. 

Regrettably, Nigerians are once again the last people to watch a movie. It is understandable when Indian and American movies get to Nigerian cinemas 3 weeks after release. It is a shame that a Nigerian story, shot in Nigeria, and financed by Nigerians gets to be showed in Nigeria one year after release. The folly is also made obvious when the foreigners they took the film to had only harsh words for the movie and refused to even screen them at their festivals. The producers even had to label the film a 'British movie' just to get prominence at a particular film festival. Yet the film was thrown out. When all did not work, they now bring the movie to Nigeria, and instantly local brands started throwing money at them in support. Why the gallivanting in the first place. 

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