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Goodbye Uncle Tom
     

Goodbye Uncle Tom

 
Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E. Prosperi, best-known for the groundbreaking shockumentary Mondo Cane, directed this bizarre and shocking look at slavery in America. Set in the deep South prior to the Civil War, Zio Tom finds Jacopetti and Prosperi travelling back in time aboard a helicopter to investigate the nuts and bolts of slavery as it happened in

Overview

Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E. Prosperi, best-known for the groundbreaking shockumentary Mondo Cane, directed this bizarre and shocking look at slavery in America. Set in the deep South prior to the Civil War, Zio Tom finds Jacopetti and Prosperi travelling back in time aboard a helicopter to investigate the nuts and bolts of slavery as it happened in the United States prior to abolition. Along the way, the filmmakers go aboard a slave ship as frightened Africans are brought to America under inhuman conditions; they witness the dangerous and degrading process by which slaves were made ready for market; and they visit a "breeding farm" for slaves after laws prohibit the importation of slaves from abroad. Also included is a sermon from a preacher who argues for the moral and spiritual necessity of slavery (while another man speaks out against it strictly on grounds of economics and practicality); the contrasting thoughts of men and women on the matter of miscegenation; and an interview with an educated slave who feels his circumstances are better for him than conventional employment. Also shown is the brutal torture and punishment of slaves for any number of real or imagined grievances. Re-creating both the opulence and the ugliness of the Old South on a grand scale, Zio Tom concludes with present-day African-Americans reading The Confession of Nat Turner and contemplating violent overthrow of the white-dominated culture. Understandably controversial, Zio Tom received a very brief theatrical release in the United States under the title Farewell Uncle Tom, where it received an X rating from the MPAA despite being trimmed by approximately 20 minutes from its original Italian running time.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
While Tony Richardson's The Loved One was famously advertised as "the movie with something to offend everyone," it's hard to imagine a film that more richly deserves such billing than Zio Tom, better known in America as Farewell, Uncle Tom. Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E. Prosperi made a career out of blurring the line between incisive social commentary and crass exploitation with such films as Mondo Cane and Africa Addio, but in Zio Tom this border is effectively crushed into dust; while the film takes a long and (for the most part) serious look at the mechanics of slavery in America prior to abolition, it does so with such broad strokes that nearly every character is reduced to a caricature, and both the oppressive slave owners and the oppressed slaves are portrayed in an equally repellent fashion. Jacopetti and Prosperi have the nerve to call this film a documentary, since it professes to re-create historical incidents, and while there's little in this film that can't be supported in some way by historical fact, the movie shoots its own credibility in the foot with a number of scenes straight out of a grade-B exploitation picture, such as the breeding farm for slaves (in which a terrified virgin is deflowered by a drooling simpleton with an oversized organ) or the crackpot scientist who performs bizarre medical experiments on slave children. The filmmakers' insistence on taking every moment over the top does result in a few striking sequences; if Steven Spielberg had a much larger budget for his slave ship sequences in Amistad, the willingness of Jacopetti and Prosperi to rub the audience's nose in the abject ugliness of the trade in human flesh results in a far more powerful depiction of this crime against humanity, and the casual brutality meted out against nearly all the slaves in the picture makes it clear that these horrors escaped no one (and reminds that these events occurred as recently as 150 years ago). But between the smug brutality of the wealthy slave owners, the imbecilic inferiority of most of the slaves, and the melodramatic brio that puts a cartoonish spin on nearly every moment of the film, Zio Tom is a film whose perspective will please no one on either side of the racial divide. Of course, the sheer cynicism of the film suggests it's possible this is just what Jacopetti and Prosperi had in mind, so it's difficult to say if Zio Tom is a bizarre misfire, or a purposefully off-putting masterwork.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/24/2008
UPC:
0827058101592
Original Release:
1971
Rating:
NR
Source:
Blue Underground
Region Code:
0
Time:
2:03:00

Special Features

Theatrical trailer; Behind-the-scenes 8mm footage with audio commentary by Giampaolo Lomi; Giampaolo Lomi's behind-the-scenes still gallery; Poster & still gallery

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Goodbye Uncle Tom
1. Program Start/Main Titles [3:03]
2. The Dinner Party [5:34]
3. War & Bone Collecting [3:28]
4. Slave Ship [3:20]
5. Fort Bastille [5:04]
6. Doc White [4:13]
7. Slave Caravan [8:29]
8. The Slave Trader [2:40]
9. Charlie Watson [2:49]
10. Children & the Kitchen [6:53]
11. "A Peculiar Institution" [1:45]
12. A Severe Punishment [3:09]
13. God & Slavery [2:25]
14. "Symbiosis" [5:01]
15. Evening Secrets [7:01]
16. The Market General [8:54]
17. Prepare & Explain [6:21]
18. Religious Rites [3:11]
19. Prof. Samuel Cartwright [5:21]
20. Escape to Florida [1:46]
21. Slave Breeder [6:12]
22. Nat Turner [10:10]
23. Margaret [7:40]
24. End Credits [5:43]

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