Kino Eye: Queimada - the slaves revolt

Submitted by AWL on 27 October, 2021 - 12:03 Author: John Cunningham

Directed in 1969 by the brilliant Gillo Pontecorvo (best known for The Battle of Algiers), Queimada is usually released in the UK under the stupid title Burn!

The year is 1844 and British agent Sir William Walker (played by Marlon Brando) helps to instigate a slaves’ revolt against the Portuguese colonial authorities on the (fictional) Caribbean island of Queimada. He aligns himself with the leader of the black slaves, José Dolores (Evaristo Márquez), but his main purpose is to dislodge the Portuguese so that the British colonialists can monopolize the lucrative sugar trade. The revolt is successful, but the British install a puppet regime under the control of the local sugar company and Walker convinces Dolores to recognise it. Increasingly dissatisfied with their subordinate position, Dolores and the ex-slaves take over the island in a second revolt. In 1854 Walker returns with a military force to crush the rebels. Dolores is captured but Walker offers him his freedom. The black leader refuses the offer saying that freedom is earned not given. He is then executed.

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