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Fragment 53 cover photo

Fragment 53 2016

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Grasshopper Films, 12 East 32nd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Produced by Centre d'art contemporain
Directed by Federico Lodoli; Carlo Tribbioli
DVD, color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Africa, Sociology

Date Entered: 10/31/2017

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

This production’s title refers to Fragment 53 of the writings of the Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, which has been translated: “War is both king of all and father of all, and it has revealed some as gods, others as men, it has made some slaves, others free.”*

This film consists of interviews, actually more like monologues/confessions, with seven leaders, all of whom are named, and who took part in Liberia’s civil war of 1989-1997. The interviews have been called “[c]andid, haunted, and often shocking…” The monologues/confessions are each not all that long and of the seven, only one of these “confessions” goes into much detail, which some may find a bit unsettling. However, if one has watched a battle scene from any of The Lord of the Rings films, it may not be so unsettling. They all speak English, but subtitles are presented to help with the viewer’s understanding. The “confessions” are framed by an introduction which displays pictures of various idols of war deities, video of the capture of Liberian President Samuel Doe in 1990, and scenes of Liberia and a cattle being slaughtered together with a “postlude” depicting scenes of Liberia and a cattle being slaughtered. These beginning and ending scenes may have some wondering “what is the point of all this?” Overall, this production is something of a letdown and could have all been done in less than 71 minutes. At best, an optional purchase for African Studies programs.

*Anson, Edward M. Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Page 8.