Origin – REVIEW

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Origin - The most important film you'll see this year?

‘We call everything racist it’s the default!’ says Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as black author Isabel Wilkinson. And she’s right as little seems to happen without some rent-a-gob starts crowing about it when given a platform on TV. But Wilkinson is a Pulitzer prize winning author and Origin is based on her book, ‘Caste : The Origins of our Discontents’, is a brilliantly ambitious adaptation and is perhaps even more relevant today and is far reaching in connecting eclectic examples from all over the world.

With just the one novel to her name she gives a lecture where her editor urges her to write about the murder of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old black teenager shot by an Hispanic male who was part of a neighbourhood watch, but Wilkinson resists. It was yet another race related murder that had the U.S. up in arms back in 2012. But she doesn’t want to write a book simplifying the matter as a race issue but wants to look at the societal conditions that allowed it to happen in the first place. It’s here that she ties it into a global examination that takes it to the Holocaust, black slavery in the U,S. and the Dalits in India. At the core of it all is subjugation. Perhaps unknown to much of the world is the treatment of the Dalits a caste below even the lowest caste in the Indian system that sees the people reduced to the most demeaning and horrific of jobs cleaning out latrines. They are caked in sewage – soiled and unclean it’s a feeling shared only by viewers of Love Island after watching an episode. What Wilkinson identifies is not racism, as often it is the same ethnicity perpetrating the subjugation, but it is caste.

Full of truisms and provocative questions Origin is overflowing with ideas presented in a manner that, though some might argue would be better served as a documentary, is perhaps more effective here as a drama none more so than a truly heart rending scene towards the end where an elderly male recounts a story from his childhood with his friends one of whom was black at a swimming pool on a particularly hot day. His story has left him stricken with anger, bitterness and regret throughout his later adult life.

Co-written and directed by Ava DuVernay the film is complex, ambitious, radical and extraordinary accurately skewering certain ideas of what racism is making this perhaps the most important film audiences will see this year. Seek it out as a matter of urgency.

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related feature : Antebellum – racism with a twist here’s our disc review – DVD / BLU-RAY / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

Here’s the Origin trailer…..

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