Freedom and its Consequences in "Manderlay" Film Review by scribbler

Freedom and its Consequences in "Manderlay"
An analysis of the film, "Manderlay", directed by Lars Von Trier.
# 153294 | 898 words | 1 source | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 19, 2013 in African-American Studies (Slavery) , Film (Analysis, Criticism, Etc.)

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The paper provides an outline of the film "Manderlay" and analyzes how the film's director makes several innovative choices as to its tone, lighting, shot composition and storytelling structure. The paper discusses how this film functions as an exploration of hypocrisy and what freedom truly means as it has been parsed out to African-Americans since Emancipation. The paper relates the central problem with the film that it raises more questions than it answers and also points out that the characters are not without complexities; Grace is clearly not the heroic protagonist, the mobsters are not entirely unscrupulous nor are the slave-owners wholly unsympathetic, or the slaves themselves without sin. The paper concludes that ultimately, the stylized film making saves the film from getting too bogged down by its difficult task of determining the true nature of freedom.

From the Paper:

"The film features Grace, an idealistic young woman traveling with her mobster father and his band of cronies through the American south in search of a new home. They come upon Manderlay and discover that, though slavery has long since been abolished, it is still practiced at the plantation. Grace takes the plantation by force, aided by the men her father bestows upon her. After the matriarch of the plantation family dies, Grace forces the white family into bondage while the slaves are freed, each of them given ownership in the plantation. Teaching the slaves to live freely is a challenge for Grace. She uses the rule book of the previous owner (titled "Mam's Law") to better understand the character of the slaves and then begins to teach them about justice and democracy. Disaster befalls Manderlay in the form of a dust storm which kills off the cotton crop; it had been rendered defenseless when Grace ordered the windbreak be chopped down to fix the slaves' leaky roofs. Starvation and illness befalls the freed slaves, but Timothy, a proud man descended from African royalty and a foil for Grace, inspires them to save what they can of their crops."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Manderlay. Dir. Lars Von Trier. Perf. Bryce Dallas Howard, Isaach de Bankole , Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe. IFC Films, 2005. DVD.

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"Freedom and its Consequences in "Manderlay"" 19 May 2013. Web. 17 April. 2021. <>