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The Nine Muses (Plus two other films by John Akomfrah: Seven Songs for Malcolm X, and The Last Angel of History) (2010)

Malcolm X , George Clinton , John Akomfrah  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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The Nine Muses (Plus two other films by John Akomfrah: Seven Songs for Malcolm X, and The Last Angel of History) + The Ghosts of Songs: The Film Art of the Black Audio Film Collective (Facts)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Malcolm X, George Clinton, John Barrymore, Richard Burton, Dermot Crowley
  • Directors: John Akomfrah
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Icarus Films
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2012
  • Run Time: 191 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00803PGDA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,137 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Twenty-five years after the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus still has not returned home. So his son, Telemachus, sets off an epic journey in search of his lost father. So begins Homer s epic poem, The Odyssey - the most revered of ancient epic poems and narrative reference point for John Akomfrah s unusual and genre defying story about chance, fate and redemption. Structured as an allegorical fable and loosely inspired by existential science fiction, THE NINE MUSES is a stylized, unusual and idiosyncratic retelling of the history of mass migration to post war Britain through the suggestive lens of the Homeric epic. In addition to its resonance with Homer's epic, THE NINE MUSES was devised and scripted from the writings of a wide range of authors including Dante Alighieri, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, John Milton, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Dylan Thomas, Matsuo Basho, TS Elliot, Li Po, and Rabindranth Tagore. Divided into nine overlapping musical chapters and mixing a vast array of archival material with shot scenes from the United States and the United Kingdom, THE NINE MUSES is an journey through myth, folklore, history, and a museum of intangible things. It is a 'sorrow song' or 'song cycle' on journeys and migration, memory and elegy, knowledge and identity. SEVEN SONGS FOR MALCOLM X is described by Akomfrah as a black British attempt to celebrate one of the few heroes left in the black political canon. Akomfrah collects testimonies, eyewitness accounts and dramatic reenactments to tell the life, legacy, loves, and losses of Malcolm X. Featuring interviews with Malcolm's widow Betty Shabazz, Spike Lee, and many others, SEVEN SONGS FOR MALCOLM X is an intriguing homage to the inspirational civil rights leader. It won Best Documentary at the Image D Ailleurs Film Festival in Paris, as well as awards at the San Francisco and Chicago Film Festivals. THE LAST ANGEL OF HISTORY examines the relationships between Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and computer technology. This Afrofuturist cinematic essay posits science fiction--from alien abduction to genetic engineering--as a metaphor for the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and otherness. Akomfrah's analysis is rooted in an exploration of the works of artists such as funkmaster George Clinton and his Mothership Connection, Sun Ra's use of extraterrestrial iconography, and the writings of black science fiction authors Samuel R. Delaney and Octavia Butler. The film intertwines images of Pan-African life from different periods of history are intercut with interviews with leading black cultural figures, including DJ Spooky, musician Derek May, astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, novelist Ismael Reed, and cultural critics Greg Tate and Kodwo Eshun.

Review

Fascinating! Cerebral and sensual. --Variety

The Nine Muses is the kind of nonfiction film I actively hope for. --Slant Magazine

Confirms John Akomfrah as one of the UK s most singular and visionary filmmakers. --London Film Festival

Intense and visually gorgeous. -Sight and Sound

Highly engrossing cine-poem... dazzling beauty. --Time Out

Crisply original and utterly seductive. ---- The New Statesman

Seven Songs of Malcolm X: An engrossing portrait...a testament to his journey beyond separatism towards a wider political perspective: a specifically black vision of human rights. - Time Out The most enlightening piece on the man and his life that you ll see. - The Wire (UK) --Time Out / The Wire

Offers an abundance of challenging ideas. The New York Times The playfulness and intellectual virtuosity of the film transcends its surface gloss, to become a kaleidoscopic celebration of the richness of Pan-African culture. Afterimage A compelling vision of futurism in black society. Dallas Observer A 45-minute meditation on black consciousness whose dense, almost chaotic weave of images and ideas offers space travel and science fiction as metaphors for the experience of the African diaspora. Chicago Reader --New York Times / Afterimage / Dallas Observer / Chicago Reader

Seven Songs of Malcolm X: An engrossing portrait...a testament to his journey beyond separatism towards a wider political perspective: a specifically black vision of human rights. - Time Out The most enlightening piece on the man and his life that you ll see. - The Wire (UK) --Time Out / The Wire

Offers an abundance of challenging ideas. The New York Times The playfulness and intellectual virtuosity of the film transcends its surface gloss, to become a kaleidoscopic celebration of the richness of Pan-African culture. Afterimage A compelling vision of futurism in black society. Dallas Observer A 45-minute meditation on black consciousness whose dense, almost chaotic weave of images and ideas offers space travel and science fiction as metaphors for the experience of the African diaspora. Chicago Reader --New York Times / Afterimage / Dallas Observer / Chicago Reader

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(2)
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
John Akomfrah has spent his career creating films that are more 'tone poems' about a subject than literal narrative or documentary. Combining
newsreel footage with often surreal images he shoots, and sometimes an audio collage approach to sound, Akomfrah's films are by turns brilliant,
frustrating, effective, sophomoric and just plain unique. Some of the films 'work' better than others for me, but I suspect that is a subjective reaction,
and one that could easily change on repeated viewings.

In short, these are more like films you'd see playing as an installation in an art museum than at your local cinema, which probably explains why so
little of Akomfrah's impressive body of work is available on home video. Kudos, then, to Icarus films for this three film collection.

Some thoughts on each of the films - at least my first viewings of them.

Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993) The most 'normal' film in the set, in that it has a clear focus - Malcolm X the man, his life and particularly his assassination.
Still, Akomfrah uses a quiet, almost poetic approach to this short (52 min) documentary.

Obviously 52 minutes isn't nearly enough to truly explore the man and his long, complex journey. But Akomfrah instead provides insightful interview clips from
many who knew Malcolm at various times in his life (shot far more interestingly than most documentary `talking heads'), striking historic film clips, and many `staged `
moments. But instead of trying to re-enact history (something that so often fails), Akomfrah creates surreal and almost painting like tableaux; a young Malcolm
standing staring at a bird cage. An older Malcolm, friends and family out of focus in the background, holding a sign that says "I made me".
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5.0 out of 5 stars a deal at double the price, as they say January 10, 2013
By tripoli
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is the best dvd set I have ever bought in my life. The two short documentaries on the second disc (one on Malcolm X and the other on Afrofuturism) are extraordinary.
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