Foreign Policy Blogs

Lumumba (2000)

While the subject matter is fascinating, this film falls short in at least a couple of ways.
First, the music doesn’t seem to sync up with the action, being loud and dramatic during quiet scenes and being almost silent during the high drama that takes place.
It also presupposes that the viewer is familiar with the time and place. In this case it is Congo in the late 1950s and 1960.

The new nation is coming out from under Belgian rule and Patrice Lumumba (wonderfully portrayed by Eriq Ebouaney) stands out as the new prime minister of the country.
From the very beginning Lumumba is faced with obstacles and political intrigue. He is cast as a communist sympathizer and Soviet stooge because many in the west do not want to give up their hold on one of Congo’s most affluent provinces.
Lumumba is portrayed not only as a man of vision for his country but also a great orator, a man of conviction and magnetism.
Lumumba tells the tale of so many countries coming to terms with their past after the colonial powers withdraw. It shows how difficult it is to manage a country, especially when the leaders are unaccustomed to ruling.

Also, while many empires fell in the post World War II era, those powers continued to hover in the background, controlling much of the political lives of the burgeoning nations.
Finally, Lumumba shows how one man tried to hold on to a unified Congo despite the odds not being in his favor.
Lumumba is available to rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]