Olsson uses historic footage about the fight for freedom from European rule in Africa and underscores it with the writing of Frantz Fanon, a philosopher and social theorist who wrote in particular about colonialization and de-colonialization.
Concerning Violence is a difficult film with a challenging concept which probably pushes it further into a particular niche of filmmaking than strictly necessary. Personally I was surprised that I wasn’t quite as exhausted by the film than I thought I would be. But it certainly isn’t a film that’s fun or entertaining.
Fanon was unknown to me before the film. Or rather, I knew the name, but I have never read anything by him. But what the film accomplished was at least that it made me curious to read more. The bits that were featured in the film certainly seemed smart and worth looking at more closely.
I was afraid that I would be overwhelmed by the entire thing – I am just not good with comprehending texts that are read to me, I need to read them myself. But most of the quotes were also shown on screen, so you could read along, which helped a great deal. And it helped that Lauryn Hill really is an excellent reader – she speaks clearly but rhythmically and makes it really easy to listen.
I liked the juxtaposition between the theory and the documentary footage, but I was also confused sometimes. I am just not very well-versed in history and African history especially, so I lacked the context to put the various bits and pieces in. And I also thought that it was a pity that Olsson sticks with the past. I would have liked to get some contemporary references as well – after all, there is still a lot worth looking at from a post-colonial perspective.
Even so, you get an impression of the time, the fight for freedom and the various shapes that fight and the resistance could take. And the few white people that were featured only served to emphasize the ludicrousness of colonialism – and how little we have become better since then.