"Son of Man" has, to say the least, left an impression on the folks who have seen it so far. No matter what my reaction to it was, I am fully aware of the importance of this film and can tell that it might just be a classic in the making. However beautiful and poignant and poetic and simply original this film was, I was nonetheless quite disturbed by it in many ways.
In case you haven't already heard, "Son of Man" is a modern re-telling of the story of Jesus played out by tribal Africans. Janelle, in her great post earlier, mentioned that she thought that the film abstracted the narrative of the Bible and was perhaps somehow not subject to its direct teachings and implications.
I was talking to a woman after the show and she could tell that I was quite jarred by the film. I told her that although the film was stunning, my experience was nevertheless somewhat undermined by a certain discomfort. I told her that I felt that the act of re-telling the myth of Jesus in a cultural arena which is essentially disconnected from that mythology seemed to me perhaps an act of assimilation. She then told me that she was the producer. So that was interesting. I was very happy with how open she was with me and how understanding she was of my idea. Her response was that the film was political more than anything. This might be true but what does it mean to abstract the political history of a country by displacing it and attributing to it an alternative narrative which is admittedly not at all connected to the actual history. I would tend to disagree with her insistence that the film is largely political because the film does not, as Nate pointed out, render the miracles ambiguous.
Moreover, I feel that in some way there could be something else going on here. The Biblical narrative has for all practical purposes become assimilated by western storytelling (in movies, books, theatre). Therefore, could there be some kind of colonization going on here, in terms of the fact that the filmmaker has attributed this traditionally western narrative to the story of a place far removed from the west? Is this a suggestion that western narrative could perhaps save African cinema? Are they patronizing these people by "letting" their stories be abstractions of the ultimate story of the white man?
I look forward to more debate on this issue as more students see this film.