The Middle Passage
HBO // Unrated // $19.99 // February 4, 2003
Review by Ron J. Epstein | posted April 10, 2003
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Feature:
"The Middle Passage" is an intense movie about a slave ship sailing from Africa to the New World (America). There are things in this movie that are disturbing. Take for instance a scene where the slaves aboard the ship tried to fight off their captors, only to be shot like dogs. The dead bodies of the slaves are thrown off the side of the boat, and to prove who's really in charge, the captors rape the women (off camera).

One of the six hundred slaves shackled in the hull of the slave ship serves as narrator to this film. With a quiet dignity, he describes all of the horrors he and his people endured aboard the slave ship, while providing flashbacks about how life was back in Africa.

It's hard to do a review for a movie like this. It's a well-done movie about slavery that pulls no punches. It is well acted, although there's no real dialogue outside of the narration. It doesn't romanticize anything, and there's no happy ending here.

Video:
"The Middle Passage" is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. The transfer looks really good, as colors are especially vivid. For instance, you can see the beads of sweat form on the heads of the slaves as they are stuck in a cramped slave ship. There is almost no artifacting or pixelation present, and there are only a few instances of grain present. Overall, a very good effort from HBO.

Audio:
The audio is presented here in Dolby 2.0 and Spanish 1.0. Everything sounds really good, but doesn't take full advantage of my audio setup. Thunderclaps and gunshots sound a little hollow, but the narration is perfectly audible and distinct.

Menus:
A static DVD menu offers the choices of "Play Movie", "Chapters", "Cast & Crew Bios", "Audio" and "Subtitles."

Extras:
If you consider Cast & Crew Bios, Chapter stops, and Subtitles to be special features, well then yes, this DVD has special features.

Final Thoughts:
If you're a history buff, and are intrigued about slavery, and the horrors that the slaves suffered on their way to America, then this is worth checking out. Otherwise, because of the subject material, I wouldn't recommend this movie to someone just looking to relax and be entertained. You have to be in the "mood" for a movie like this. "Rent It."



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