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A saga of the slave trade, carried by Samuel L. Jackson, on Histoire TV


A saga of the slave trade, carried by Samuel L. Jackson, on Histoire TV

Personal quest, underwater archeology, historical investigation: three axes for an unprecedented blockbuster, “Slaves”, in six episodes.

A saga of the slave trade, carried by Samuel L. Jackson, on Histoire TV
Actor Samuel L. Jackson, July 30, 2019, during an initiation ceremony among the Benga, in Gabon. JOLADE OLUSANYA / 2020 ASSOCIATED PRODUCERS LTD. AND CORNELIA STREET PRODUCTIONS

Known for his prolific filmography, from Jungle Fever (Spike Lee, 1991) to his long collaboration with Quentin Tarantino ( Pulp Fiction , 1994; Jackie Brown , 1997; Django Unchained , 2013…), Samuel L. Jackson is also known for his activism: at 19, he was one of the many bearers of Martin Luther King's coffin during his funeral in Atlanta, in April 1968. We find him here as the hero of a documentary blockbuster, Slaves, which traces the history of trafficking transatlantic human beings in six thematic episodes, the first two of which are broadcast on Thursday, December 3.

It all starts with a DNA test, which will allow the actor to identify some of his ancestors: members of the Benga tribe, originally from present-day Gabon, torn from their land and sold as slaves on the other side of the ocean, like 12 million Africans. From this personal story, director Simcha Jacobovici has built a completely new saga, calling on the one hand to a team of specialized divers to explore various wrecks of slave ships, on the other hand to an investigative journalist, Afua Hirsch, responsible for shedding light on the political, social and economic mechanisms by which this system was able to endure for more than three centuries.

Each episode follows three common threads that are intertwined: the journey of Samuel L. Jackson (also executive producer with his wife LaTanya), on the traces of his origins, the historical investigation and the underwater exploration by divers. 'of the Diving with a Purpose (DWP) association', dedicated to the protection of submerged heritage.

Roots of racist thought

If we can remain skeptical about the “American” staging of the underwater sequences, which pushes the suspense to the extreme, we can only admire the result. Whether it's the site of the Guerrero shipwreck in Florida in the first episode of The Sunken Memory, or, in the next, when divers are the first to explore, near the Cornish coast, what remains of the “35F”, code name given to the oldest slave ship known to date - probably sunk in 1685.

Samuel L. Jackson went to Gabon to meet the Benga, who welcomed him like a head of state before giving him an initiation rite. The actor lends itself to it with good grace. We follow him, in the first opus, from stalls in preparation until the final ceremony. At the same time, the team went to the edge of the Iguéla lagoon, a paradisiacal site in Loango National Park , from which, in 1720, the first ship loaded with slaves left for South Carolina. In total, 1 million men embarked here once sold, like another very lucrative "commodity" then: ivory.

Rationalization, the second episode of the evening, continues the investigation and seeks to understand how the Europeans were able to justify the slave trade beyond its simple economic aspect. The documentary then focuses on the roots of racist thought. Facing a church built in the middle of the courtyard of a slave trade detention center, Afua Hirsch wonders: “For all these Europeans, it was not contradictory to indulge in this horrible trade? "

I have ambitions and goals in my life, and I am now trying to achieve them calmly, as the name also came on my channel and website.