Film Review Sugar Cane Alley
This exploitation tool place in many different places and not Just in the Caribbean. For example the plantation system In the film Is much like the compound systems that were used In southern Rhodesia as examined by Charles Van oneself In his book. The mall goal of these systems is to gain large profits through the use of cheap labor which is provided by the natives of European colonies. Many tactics were used by the neocolonialist to extend the labor cycle and prevent these workers from any personal mains In order to keep from losing any of their labor force.
In Sugar Cane Alley we follow the Journey of a young boy who lives with his grandmother who knows that education is one of the only and very few ways to escape the life of work that everyone In black shack alley has endured. Joke’s pursuit of education, the second key to freedom, reflects how the neocolonialism system provides no way for the lower rungs of the society to honor their own culture and escape the long lasting feeling of oppression and labor, with no substantial self-gain or economic independence. Van Nonsense’s examination of the compound system in Southern Rhodesia shows many similarities with what’s seen In Sugar Cane Alley.
Both are neocolonialism systems that thrive off the exploitation of the vulnerable people who live in the colonies where these systems are used. These systems are designed to impede its workers and lower class people from gaining their own self sustainability therefore making them reliant on the opportunities provided by the systems. These opportunities presented as good for the people, whereas these workers used to be slaves and property, and are owe employees working for a wage. These opportunities disguise the ways that the landowners take advantage of the natives.
Low wages, poor nutrition and living conditions, monopolizing of local goods, and many more strategies are employed by the powerful wealthy whites that own the plantations. The workers are provided with enough money and food so that they can survive and work productively on the plantations or compounds, but not enough to gain economic independence from their employers. The only way for the land owners to see high profit margins Is to peep labor expenditures low, which also helps to extend the labor cycle, and productivity high.
The only way to keep productivity high while simultaneously keeping crop production high is to mask the exploitation from the people who are I OFF of social life as long as it did not interfere with work interests. They would provide alcohol, sex, and education for the children amongst other things. Allowing the children to attend school helps give their parents a feeling that even though they themselves are working all day to put food on the table, their efforts aren’t in vein nice their children are given opportunity through education and a chance at a scholarship.
But still, in Sugar Cane Alley the land owners don’t loosen their grip on its future workers. They make it hard to escape the system through education by only allowing opportunity to the top children in the class. Then still, even if the children do lead their class and make their way through the system the scholarship they are given only covers one fourth of the cost of tuition for the top school, which is located in Fort De France, which still could not be afforded by someone who works on he plantation.
Jose was one of two children to receive the scholarship to the school in Fort De France, the other one not able to accept the opportunity due to financial reasons, and through the determination of his grandmother was able to start attending school while living out of a packing crate. Jose and his grandmother were finally rewarded when one of the teachers of the school offers Jose a full scholarship after finding out how bright he is. His grandmother, called Ma Tine, could finally rest and stop her long days of hard physical labor.
Her time of rest on Earth was short ivied as soon after her grandson gained his full scholarship, Ma Tine died of a heart attack. Another adult influence in Joke’s life was Mr.. Module. Module was an old man, old enough to know the feeling of true slavery. Module is portrayed as Joke’s mentor as he tells the boy stories, and tries to teach him life lessons. Module explains how hard it is to escape the oppression of the white people and that the only way for him to return to Africa is through his death. Module also uses the elements of fire and water to explain to the boy how life works.
The director of the elm reflects this concept throughout the movie as she moves from dark scene to bright scene. Like when Module dies his funeral is held at night and lighted with fire and torches, and then the following scene is set in the daylight and in the water. You also see this concept in the different lifestyles, as the black people’s oppressed lives represent fire, and the whites fulfilling lifestyles correspond to the water that Module talked about. Module’s legacy is largely responsible for Joke’s desire to pursue his education and ultimately escape the path that his life has been destined o follow.
One other important character is mulatto Leopold who is the illegitimate son of a white landowner who actually owns the plantation that all of the workers in Sugar Cane Alley work on. Loophole’s father treats his son well and clearly care about the child even though he will not share his name with the boy. Leopold is constantly told by his father and others that he is not to associate himself with the black children in his class. The relationship that Leopold and his father share represents the perception that white people have on their lower class black workers.
His father still sees the blacks as inferior even though they are no longer considered slaves. I believe that the this perception is an unconscious attempt feel at peace with themselves even though they are taking advantage of a large group of people, dignity about themselves while treating other humans so unjustly. After the death of his father and not receiving his father’s name, Leopold runs away to later steal the plantation ledger in efforts to tell the workers that they are being taken advantage of.
Leopold represents the idea that the white people disassociated and willingly linked themselves from the wrongs they were committing as long as they saw profits. Sugar Cane Alley is a good look into the neocolonialism system structures used by European colonists to continue to take advantage of cheap labor and high potential profit margins without calling it slavery. It shows the ignorance of white people towards the anguish of the black people they so willingly oppressed. Martinique was just one of many places that was exploited by this Resurrection system that existed during the time of the movie and continues to exist in some places today.