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Daughters of the Dust

Overview

At the turn of the century, West African slaves were brought to a small island near South Carolina to labor in the indigo trade. Isolated in the swampy atmosphere, the Gullah community was built based on ancient Yoruba traditions. They spoke in a distinct dialect, a combination of English and West African languages. This unique community is explored in Julie Dash's debut feature Daughters of the Dust, a costume drama about the Peazant family, a fictional group of Gullah natives living on Ido Landing. The secluded...
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Overview

At the turn of the century, West African slaves were brought to a small island near South Carolina to labor in the indigo trade. Isolated in the swampy atmosphere, the Gullah community was built based on ancient Yoruba traditions. They spoke in a distinct dialect, a combination of English and West African languages. This unique community is explored in Julie Dash's debut feature Daughters of the Dust, a costume drama about the Peazant family, a fictional group of Gullah natives living on Ido Landing. The secluded family experiences conflicts surrounding religion, industrialization, and tradition. The mystical matriarch Nana Cora Lee Day holds true to the beliefs of their anscestors, while Haagar Kaycee Moore can't wait to move away. Yellow Mary Barbara O returns from a life as a prostitute in Cuba with her girlfriend, and gets morally attacked by the reformed Christian Viola Cheryl Lynn Bruce. Meanwhile, indifferent Eula Alva Rogers is pregnant with a baby that may or may not be the result of a rape. While the story doesn't attempt to follow a standard Eurocentric narrative, the plot revolves around a picnic on the shore in honor of the family members who chose to move to the prosperity of the north. The narrator is a spirit called the Unborn Child, who appears sometimes as a rambunctious little girl. A photographer accompanies the group to capture the events on film.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Andrea LeVasseur
Even with a meager budget, director Julie Dash manages to visually capture a unique time and place in the historical epic Daughters of the Dust. Rich images of long white lacy dresses, a grandmother's indigo-dyed hands, and a soul food buffet on a seashore create a vivid context for entering into the Peazant family's memories. The narrative itself is a collection of memories, as remembered by the Unborn Child, offering a connection to both the past and future. Not following a traditional plot line, it instead evokes feelings of the excitement and confusion of an isolated community coming into contact with the outside world. The presence of the photographer suggests that the memories are being created and recalled simultaneously. The story is difficult to follow anyway, and it doesn't help that the characters speak in the Gullah dialect, which makes use of subtitles. Dash did extensive research about this extraordinary community, including her own family history. The historical information isn't presented clearly, so it is sure to cause confusion for the casual viewer. However, with the help of cinematographer Arthur Jafa, the compelling images compensate for lack of narrative cohesion. For a lyrical and atmospheric tribute filled with playful storytelling, Daughters of the Dust offers a rewarding cinematic experience.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/27/2000
  • UPC: 737329013328
  • Original Release: 1992
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Letterbox / Stereo
  • Sound: stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:53:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alva Rogers Eula Peazant
Barbara O Yellow Mary
Adisa Anderson Eli Peazant
Cora Lee Day Nana Peazant
Kaycee Moore Haagar Peazant
Eartha Robinson Myown
Bahni Turpin Iona Peazant
Cheryl Lynn Bruce Viola
Trula M. Marcus Companion
Trula Hoosier Trula
Sherry Jackson Older Cousin
Joe Taylor Peazant Man
Raymond Paige Baptismal Procession
Stanley White Indigo Plantation
Technical Credits
Julie Dash Director, Producer, Screenwriter
John Barnes Score Composer
Nandi Bowe Asst. Director
Arline Burks Costumes/Costume Designer
Joseph Burton Editor
Veda Campbell Sound/Sound Designer
Amy Carey Editor
Arthur Jafa Cinematographer, Producer
Lidsay Law Executive Producer
Kerry Marshall Production Designer
Larry Meistrich Asst. Director
Michael Kelly Williams Art Director
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