“If you are the big tree, we are the small ax “ singing Bob Marley in 1973, and the title of the new one comes from the verses of the icon of Jamaican music Anthology miniseries created by Steve McQueen (Widows, Hunger, 12 years slave). The big tree is still that of racism, this time told outside the United States of America, in England, while the little ax is made up of five different stories that address the problem clearly, giving a clear and precise cross-section of the perpetration. of injustices and abuses against minorities.
There Rome Film Festival 2020 Three episodes of the series were featured, perhaps the most significant of which is the latest to be released on BBC One in the UK and Amazon Prime Video in the US and on us. We are talking about Red White and Blue starring John Boyega, based on the true story of Leroy Logan, a neuroscientific researcher who in the 1980s decided to abandon his medical career to join the Metroplitan Police Service after an attack by two policemen on his father.
A teenage dream, maybe a calling, to try change things from within, cleaning up a corrupt and faulty system even going against the will of the parents, despised even by his own people, seen as a traitor.
Try or give up?
The cinematographic, social and civil commitment of Steve McQueen’s filmography has been known since his debut, and not necessarily solely and exclusively in racial terms. Hungry for example, he addressed the issue of abuse in prison, Shame in the movie, Widows gave space to female empowerment in terms of gender and only 12 years slave, On closer inspection, he dived deep into slavery and racism. Given the current times, with the turn to the mobilization of #BlackLivesMatter and all the recent and terrible prevarications and violence by some members of the police to the detriment of African American citizens, Small Ax, however, is the best possible container to enter this world of atrocities and injustices that were never cured. and that they do evolve, change their skin and sometimes even get worse. It is curious then to observe how the situation has not changed much from the 1980s to the present day within the police line, where discrimination, fanaticism and brutality existed and continue to exist.
McQueen addresses the matter with determination tell a story devoid of virtuosity but rich in content, empathy, meaning, directly showing the rotten heart of a stagnant system that can only be tried to change, choosing on the contrary to surrender to the test of the facts.
A car that the story of Leroy Logan brings to the screen with conviction, insisting on the sacrifices and sacrifices of a man who has chosen to fight for the values he believes in rather than abandon himself to disappointment, to non-action. To play the protagonist we find a John Boyega always so exceptional, which in the hands of the British director becomes a vehicle of great emotion and depth, of great expressive caliber, different from how we have come to know it until now if we exclude its already extraordinary role in Detroit di Kathryn Bigelow.
He has an impressive physique, who cuts across the screen, while his dramatic abilities reach the viewer. with an interpretive metric that never forces performance and instead is abandoned to it, entering the soul of the character, dissecting each emotion with truly impeccable control and dedication.
The credit is certainly also due to the director, who knows how to direct his actors and, above all, knows how to insert his protagonists. Red, White and Blu is, in fact, an intimate episode shot almost entirely with the camera steady, with very few long shots and interested in delving into the details of the feelings and lives of the characters and the story itself.
The images to be framed are wasted and what is most striking is the sensitivity of the capture, which is never an end in itself but capable of enhancing the emotion of the scene. almost to immortalize not beauty but life itself, a breath, a look, a moment.
And then there’s the whole context of growth and comparison between Leroy and his father, played instead by Steve Toussaint. A healthy relationship of confrontation and dialogue that also represents the way of thinking of different generations, of a dreamer and a deeply angry loser.
In the end, the evidence of the facts remains the same, whether you fight or not, believe or not in change, in direct action, and this unites and strengthens two opposite but similar thoughts: that knowing the world allows you to make more decisions. alone, even if he objects, but that the world maybe should be burned and seeded again to ensure that something good is finally born to cultivate.