Arts of Ghana
The many peoples of Ghana create beautiful Kente cloth, brass castings, stamped Adinkra cloth used in funerals, stools carved of wood, and royal arts. They also use drums in ceremonies when the tonal patterns of the drumming match the tonal patterns of the spoken messages, allowing the drums to "speak." Five very high-quality videos, shot in August 2002, describe each of these art forms in detail. The complex parts of the Kente loom are explained, as well as the technique of double weaving. Lost-wax brass casting is explained from the modeling of the wax figure to the pouring of the molten brass and the breaking of the mold to reveal the completed work of art. An Adinkra artist explains the proverbs behind each of the stamped patterns as he works on a funeral cloth. The manager of a stool-carving workshop describes the types of each of the stools used by royals and commoners. Finally, the chief drummer of the Omanhene of Techiman speaks praises for the Bono people as the royal drums "speak" the very same phrases.
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In the spirit of offering balanced feedback, the production for "Arts of Ghana" is low-fi. Indeed, calling it a film may be an overstatement since it was shot with video. That written, the videography is good; it is the audio levels are could have been better. Despite quality interviews, it is often difficult to hear the interviewer and interviewees due to an absence of clip-on or boom mics. A potential drawback is that some viewers may find that too much time is appropriated to certain topics. For example, not everybody will want to watch a carpenter carve a stool for five continuous minutes. Beyond this, the emphasis on the creation of objects isn't balanced with the use of such items. Thus most viewers will walk away being intimately familiar with the 'manufacture' of kente and stools, but know nothing of their use, cultural relevance or history. In terms of the geographical scope, it is modest but could have been broader. While Christopher D. Roy visits the core areas of interest, it lacks what most Ghanaian depictions lack: the north. Culturally different, the north is a region of great interest that seldom gets the attention it deserves. Despite the lack of a rating, this product is institutionally friendly for any level of education. Having no peers, this film was long overdue. Being one of the most vibrant, friendly and fascinating nations, the world needs to know more about Ghana. "Arts of Ghana" succeeds in showing Ghana's fine arts in context.