This week, I went to see ‘Concerning Violence‘, a film by Göran Hugo Olsson that is based on Frantz Fanon‘s book ‘The Wretched of the Earth‘. The film is, indeed, violent throughout, working across the many levels of brutality in performances of white supremacy. The archive footage covers anything from settler racism to military intervention, illustrating Fanon’s points about the strategies and effects of colonialism. The only commentary, apart from that of the archive material, is provided by a ‘preface’ from Gayatri Spivak, and by Lauryn Hill‘s fittingly sharp reading of passages from each of Fanon’s chapters.
For me, the film arrived after a recent academic debate, where I found myself as the only person defending violence. I argued that violence is often taken up by people with no other means or choices – when nothing else is heard by the oppressor. The general consensus at this seminar was that nothing justifies violence. While I understand this sentiment, I also feel that violence needs to be more understood. It is first of all easy to condemn it when you have not experienced violent oppression yourself. Here, ‘Concerning Violence’ gives a really good insight into what it means to be oppressed, and why people feel compelled to take up arms. This does not mean that the film celebrates or advocates violence. What is instead celebrated is self-education and the desire to bring a better world into being, despite the risk of being subject to violence for doing so.
“For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must make a new start, develop a new way of thinking, and endeavour to create a new man.” — Frantz Fanon