Is Violent Revolution the Answer?

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Is Violent Revolution the Answer? Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s La Última Cena (The Last Supper) The ideas I intend to express in the following paper are in no way meant to make allowances for the practices of slavery or racism. As I begin this paper, I feel the need to remind the reader that I find slavery, in all of its forms, to be an oppressive and terrible institution. I unwaveringly believe that for centuries, including this one, the narrow-mindedness that slavery has perpetrated is one of the most terrible humiliations leveled upon our civilization. These views are meant only to assess and illuminate the construction of slavery in film. When it comes to films concerning slavery, the role of the filmmaker as educator is significantly heightened. Very often, slavery films unconditionally disparage whites as oppressive forces and stereotype the white class as uniformly tyrannical. The sympathetic, yet comparatively powerless, whites in this arrangement are frequently left out, giving credence to a stance that portrays race as a division between villains and martyrs. While I see an effort in Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s The Last Supper to move beyond these depictions, how successful the film rises above the typically extreme constructions of character in the slave film is a difficult judgment, particularly for a film from a Cuban director during the Cold War. For John Mraz, the representation of history in Tomás Alea’s The Last Supper is commendable work. Mraz believes that the film joins a cinematic compilation where “films meet many of our expectations about what history ought to be” (120). Mraz maintains his praise of Alea’s historical constructions, asserting that the way the film addresses history is impartial and objective: “The Last Supper follows the classic model of both written and filmed history in insisting on the reality of the world that it has in fact created, however much this universe has resulted from research. The major convention of such history is that it has opened a window onto the past rather than constructed a particular version of it” (121). While I have no qualms with Mraz’s assessment of the uses of the film’s construction of history on the Cuban plantation, I find that the window Mraz speaks of offers a much more vague version of reality than Mraz indicates initially. The validation of slavery by the white people in the film comes off as ridiculous, and yet the abstract strategies to defend slavery that are at work in the film coincide with the arguments used by slavery allies throughout the nineteenth century.

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