Friday, March 30, 2012

Film Review: Mandingo

When I first saw this film, it was in the context of a history lesson of sorts, notably Black history, and specifically, Slave Trade history.

When I saw it again recently, this time with my Manosphere goggles on, it surprised me how full of lessons on the male-female dynamics it contained.
I missed all that the first time round.

'Mandingo' is set on Falconhurst, a run-down plantation in the Deep South during the hey-day of the slave trade.
The owner is Warren Maxwell, a widower with rheumatism and a fiery temper (at least against abolitionists) and he lives there with his son Hammond, who limps following a childhood accident where he was stomped on the knee by a pony.

If the overriding wrongs of slavery can be set aside for the purposes of focusing on the point of this review, then Hammond Maxwell is the ultimate 'good guy'.

In fact, even in the context of the slave trade, he was amazingly principled.
Except for one or two misdemeanors on his part, he is a conscientious fellow who is a free agent in the sense that he never allowed himself to be swayed by anyone's moral compass but his own. And he was morally sound, at least far more than the people around him.

The Maxwells' household consisted of Lucrezia Borgia, a Mandingo slave woman (the chief cook, and as was not unusual at that time, virtual mother to Hammond, I suspect even before his real mother died), Big Pearl, the daughter of Lucrezia Borgia,  Agamemnon the chief house slave and a few other slaves including children.

Warren's favourite topic of conversation was the 'Mandingo' - a specific tribe of slave (who hail from modern day Sierra Leone) who were known for their 'strong genes', which meant more money for any slave master who had one. The male Mandingos were prized because they made unbeatable wrestlers.

Hammond, unmarried at the start of the film had an eye for slave women, particularly virgin ones. But unlike his peers, he actually liked (loved?) these women.

He fell in love with one, Ellen when he and a friend paid a visit to a ranch belonging to a family friend and he and his friend were presented with two slave women for the night.
Ellen, the virgin of the two girls noticed immediately that Hammond was 'different' from other white men, and consented to be with Hammond, who gave her the choice to stay or leave.

Maxwell Senior is getting old and starts pressuring Hammond to get a wife and produce an heir for the plantation.
Around this time, Hammond's cousin Charles pays a visit, and it becomes a foregone conclusion that Hammond would marry Charles' sister, Blanche.

This duly happens rather quickly. Blanche certainly plays her cards right.

It wasn't until the wedding night that Hammond discovers she is not a virgin.
Being an expert on virgins, he could tell.
At first Blanche denied this.
But she never regained the love nor respect of Hammond.
Towards the end of the film she confesses that she and her brother Charles were up to things they shouldn't have. In her defence, she said it happened when she was 13. (Statutory rape, then).

Hammond never forgot Ellen, his slave lover.
Following the disappointment of his wedding night, he goes in search for her, buys her and takes her home with him, along with Mede, a prize fighter of a slave man who is 100% Mandingo, and as it happens who becomes the pride of Warren and the whole of Falconhurst plantation.

Blanche is aware of her husband's penchant for black women. When Ellen is bought, she asks Hammond if she is 'for the Mandingo'. Hammond simply replies, "No she ain't".
Here starts the (one-way) rivalry between the two women.

Hammond ignores his wife and spends all his nights with his beloved Ellen. He continuously reassures her that he will never sell her or their children.
When she gets pregnant, he promises her (at her request) that their child will be a free person, not a slave.

Unfortunately that child never got born.
In a fit of jealousy, Blanche attacks Ellen with a whip and she miscarries.
The rage of a woman scorned...
Warren is told of the incident by Lucrezia Borgia. To protect Blanche, Warren instructs Ellen not to tell Hammond about Blanche's misdeed.

Warren becomes increasingly worried that his son and his wife are not getting on with the business of producing an heir for him. He has no idea why Hammond is ignoring his wife.
Of course Hammond never tells his father why he is cold towards his wife. Is this to protect her, or is he simply content to forget she exists and console himself with his slave mistress?
In a classic Manosphere-type 'advice to a woman', Warren instructs her to do whatever it takes to atract and keep Hammond. She retorts that there is nothing she can do to make her husband love her - that he is only attracted to the 'dirty wenches' who do 'dirty' things with men.
Disingenuous. Blanche knows exactly why her husband is rejecting her.
But she would rather make herself seem like a 'good girl' in relation to 'those other women who are dirty' to someone she knows does not know her own dirty little secret.

(Warning: the first 2 minutes of the following video shows a gruesome wrestling match - might be offensive or unwatchable to some).

Things come to a head when Hammond and Warren return from a trip with winnings from yet another wrestling win by Mede the Mandingo who by this time has become something of a friend to Hammond  (so much so that he refuses to sell Mede even when pressured into doing so by his father and others prepared to pay colossal sums for the Mandingo).
With the winnings, Warren buys ruby earrings together with matching necklace and gives them to Hammond to give to his wife as a present.

Egged on by his father, Hammond grudgingly gives the ruby necklace to his wife Blanche (what a contrast with the way in which he gives Ellen the ruby earrings!), following which his father locks them together in their room to 'get on with things' after he rebukes Blanche for drinking too much and neglecting her appearance. Blanche is happy when her husband obliges his father and things seem to be looking up for her.

Her happiness is short-lived, however. When she spots Ellen wearing the ruby earrings, she knows Hammond must have given them to her. Her rage against him leads to her fatal confession about who her previous 'suitor' was.

Warren is dismayed at his son for his stupidity re the ruby jewelry. But Hammond is unrepentant.

When Hammond goes away to slave market, Blanche (desperate for some..aherm...male attention, and in revenge for her husband's open affection for Ellen) calls for Mede to come to her room. She is drunk. The other slaves are aware what is about to happen and try to save Mede from his fate, but to no avail.
Blanche blackmails him into doing what she wants. He is in a classic no-win situation.

When Blanche gives birth to a mixed race baby boy nine months later, Hammond is stunned and outraged.
A man betrayed...twice. First to learn his 'virgin bride' is anything but, and then to learn his son and heir is also anything but.

Cuckoldry. A man's greatest fear...
Blanche is a woman hell-bent on punishing her husband for 'abandoning' her, i.e. making her realise her own worst fear.

The baby is sadly killed by the doctor and his midwife wife to spare Hammond the embarrassment. But Hammond nonetheless discovers the truth. He decides to poison Blanche - and does.
Does the punishment fit the crime? Certainly not, but Hammond was in freefall at this point.
And then he goes in search of Mede his slave friend, wielding a gun. This time, not even his beloved Ellen can stop him.

The final scene is excruciating and brutal.
Mede and Agamemnon finally have the courage to speak up in an attempt to reason with Hammond, who (perhaps understandably) has taken temporary leave of his senses, with disastrous results.
He only wakes up to himself when he is faced with the lifeless body of his father prone on the ground before him.

I must say that I feel Hammond let himself down in this scene. He already knew (and should have known anyway!) that Mede woud never have touched his wife unless he was tricked or manipulated into doing it. When his father, seeing him prepare the poison he would later use to kill her suggsted that Blanche could have been raped by Mede, Hammond knew this was not the case.
But his rage (against his wife?) led him to attack Mede who was clearly the innocent party.

I am pretty sure Blanche could have saved her marriage to Hammond if only she had been a woman of good character and some intelligence. Afterall, I am sure there were many non-virgin brides in her day who managed to have longlasting good marriages. The point I am trying to make here is that she was not actually a very nice person to begin with, so I suspect that even if she had been virginal at the time of her marriage, she would still have been in the same position.
Unlike Ellen, who was a slave and therefore was never going to be in a position to marry Hammond, Blanche was already his wife. With a bit of effort on her part, he could have been 'persuaded' to at least share his time equally between her and Ellen. Blanche however, had taken to drinking, and as her father-in law noted, was letting her appearance go. The really sad part is, Blanche had a lot of potential. She was good-looking, and when she did try, she actually managed to get Hammond 'into her'. But her efforts were too sparse. She repeatedly failed in her role as 'relationship expert'.
Ellen on the other hand was always presentable, even though she was a slave woman. When Hammond presents the ruby earrings to her 'to prettify her', he quickly adds 'not that you need prettifying'.

There is no way to be definite about this of course, but it is quite possible that Hammond would never have gone as far as seeking out Ellen and actually buying her to ensure she would remain his forever, if he hadn't been so disappointed with his wife.
He was so keen to forget his new wife that he went in search of Ellen on the way home from the honeymoon! Blanche knew she was in trouble from then on...
As Lucrezia Borgia later explained to Warren and Hammond, Blanche had 'called for' Mede several times. This implies that she was sending a definite message to Hammond. It seems she really wanted to get pregnant by Mede. To teach her husband a lesson. To humiliate him. Kinda like, what you can do, I can do better...'If you're gonna mess about with the slaves, so will I'.
But what a way to teach one's husband a lesson!
I am sure there are much better ways...

Hammond was a good guy in many ways. He was fair, except for right at the end when his wounded manly pride dictated his uncharacteristic behaviour.
It was his habit to 'deflower' the virgin girls amongst the slaves of his father which was (of course abominably) perhaps the culture of the day. But it is noteworthy that he treated all these girls with kindness and gentleness such that none of them felt the need to flee from him, as they often did with the other men. I am not sure how the film makers manage to convince the audience that somehow these women were not being (technically) raped. But somehow they manage it. Sensitive topic so I shall stay away from now on.
He did not share his father's anti-abolition views and was courteous to slaves unless he felt he was being 'disrespected' - for example when he caught Agamemnon reading with other slaves behind his back, and even with Ellen when she first asked him if their (unborn) son could go free and he sensed possible dissent on her part.

Hammond's 'habit' meant that he had the pick of any slave woman he wanted, but that meant he was sexually unacquainted with white women until he married (and in fact as was the custom of the day, he should have been unacquainted with any woman until marriage!).
Technically, that should not have been a problem.
Except that there was the 'conventional wisdom' in place that the white ladies were 'ladies in the bedroom' and the 'wenches' were 'dirty in bed', so Hammond was expecting this to play out in his own life.
Well that never quite transpired.
He is so principled that when it becomes clear that his wife is not 'respectable', he and a friend end up in a brothel, but Hammond cannot bring himself to break his vows - at least not straightaway.
When eventually he does, it is only with his beloved Ellen.

At one point, Blanche is so desperate for his affections that she literally 'jumps him' much to his surprise (did not expect that from a 'white lady' - not even one to whom he was married!).
Had he not written her off, I am sure her advances would have been very welcome indeed. But sadly this was not the case.

Hammond ends up treating Ellen more like a wife than Blanche. He was gentle and affectionate with her, and her needs were a priority for him.

Maxwell Senior is not particularly likeable at the start of the film. He is a grumpy old racist and loudmouthed man.
But he is undeniably a good father.
And, as it turns out, a good father-in-law.
If only Blanche had listened to him for more than five minutes, she could have made her marriage work.
Warren, I suspect liked Ellen (although sometimes he had a funny way of showing it). He, like Hammond was gentle and kind to her. But his first duty was to Blanche, as she was the legitimate wife of his son, so he protected her by lying for her during the miscarriage incident.
He was keen to see his son's marriage work.
When Blanche accuses Hammond of liking 'dirty' women, Warren's reply is to the tune of 'you will also do 'dirty things' if that's what it takes to keep him'. Talk about straightforward marriage counselling!

Warren has a great relationship with Lucrezia Borgia. She is as much the matriarch of the household as he is the patriarch. In many ways, she was a good wife-substitute for him following the death of his wife. And I suppose a mother-figure to Hammond. Both men respect her.
When Lucrezia Borgia, on first meeting Blanche, exclaims, 'Ever since Mrs Maxwell died I have been looking forward to a new mistress', my first thought was, 'Oh yes, why didn't Maxwell Senior remarry?'
Until I realised there was no need. Lucrezia Borgia was already said mistress of the household. All but in name.

Ellen is the sweet and shy slavegirl who steals the heart of Hammond. Unlike Blanche she really gets to know Hammond and what makes him tick.
She cannot have a real rivalry with Blanche in this menage à trois because she is a slave and therefore has no socially relevant power, but she demonstrates backhanded cattiness that all women when faced with competition and given the slightest chance will exhibit.
After Hammond gives her the ruby earrings, she wears them when she is serving dinner, knowing Blanche will see them. That was the extent to which she could wield her power over Blanche and she didn't hesitate to use it. It was efective.
She was also feminine in a way Blanche was not. So she had Hammond eating out of her hand from more or less Day 1. She may have been the underdog in the race for Hammond's affections, but she definitely came out the outright winner.

Poor Mede. I do have some sympathy for him. But not too much.
He was in a very unfortunate position, yes.
And, to make matters worse, I also think (and I say this with all humility) he was a bit of a simpleton.
Three episodes convince me of his lack of higher intellect.

1. Once, he was asked to chase down a runaway slave by the name of Cisero. When Mede finally catches up with Cisero, he is pleased with himself. Cisero rebukes him, explaining that he was just a lapdog for his white masters. Mede seemed oblivious to this.
2. When he wrestles and kills Topaz, another slave, in a brutal wrestling match, again he is pleased with himself (but in all fairness he did show some introspection after this match). Agamemnon has to remind him of his 'puppet' status. Again, Mede needs reminding that pleasing his white masters is not necessarily something to be proud of.
3. For me, the following is the worst one. When he was asked to go to Blanche's room, surely he knew what was about to happen?! Sure, it is quite possible that he felt he had no choice but to follow orders...but I am positive he could have found a way to get out of the terrible dilemma he was about to face.
He could have arranged to 'disappear' from the plantation, he could have feigned an illness, anything!
But poor old Mede walked right into the trap that had been laid for him by Blanche.

His saving grace comes at the very end of the film where he scrapes together the shreds of masculinity he posseses and challenges Hammond's judgment for the very first time.
Too little too late, perhaps?

This film is tainted with the historical context of slavery, of course, so it is quite difficult to be objective about any message it sends, no matter how unrelated to slavery it seems.
Scenes in which Warren and friends dispute that the slaves have souls, where someone suggests that Warren place his rheumatism-ravaged feet on a little black boy to transfer his rheumatism into him, and the discussion between Warren and Hammond where the latter informs the former that Mede is in fact the son of Lucrezia Borgia (but no-one else on the plantation knew because he was sold at birth) and therefore giving Big Pearl to him as his 'wife' would constitute incest but who cares, they are just slaves anyway, and the cruel way in which babies were snatched away from their mothers and sold are all particularly cringeworthy and unwatchable at times.

But I find the male-female dynamics between Hammond and his women remarkedly representative of some of today's SMP issues.
It is afterall, a classic human story.

This post is already too long, but just a quick rundown on the specific Manosphere issues the film throws at me:

1. Men seeking 'foreign' women if the women in their country/culture/race/religion/social circle are not deemed suitable. Although Ellen was stricly speaking not truly 'foreign' to Hammond, she was not in his 'approved' social circle.
Parallels with 'mail order brides' because western men think western women are not 'feminine' enough?
Parallels with black men seeking non-black women because they think black women are not 'feminine' enough?
Is any man happy with his own race/culture woman nowadays?

2. Men have a problem with a woman's 'high number'. In the era of this film, 'one' was deemed a high number, so Blanche paid a high price for it. Because it is perceived that a high number leads to...

3. Betrayal/cuckoldry. A man's worst nightmare. In a man's mind, are 2. and 3. really connected? In this film, is Blanche's lack of virginity the cause of her cheating? Would she not have cheated if she had been a virgin? Can a man ever forgive this sin? Hammond did not.
4. An older man really can be a girl's best teacher when it comes to her relatonship issues, same as he can be for young men. Blanche had both a father and a brother (not sure if her mother was alive). Unfortunately she got the wrong kind of 'brotherly love' which turned out to be a tragedy for her.
When she lets herself go after feeling abandoned by Hammond, it's her father-in-law who teaches her how to be a good woman/wife - a role one would expect from an older woman, eg. her own mother.
Parallels with the Manosphere 'Woman up' theme?

5. A woman blames a man or men in general for her failings in the love department. Blanche does this very well. "It's all Hammond's fault!", she exclaims. "He likes those 'dirty wenches!"
Fair point or patent lack of introspection on her part? (This has to be the most rhetorical question of this post!)

6. The following point is the most subtle of all...
When Hammod learns of Ellen's miscarriage, he is of course sad too. Afterall it's his baby too. But he does not sit and talk through the ins and outs of how she is feeling, etc. Even though he loves her. Her best female friend would have done just that though, because as a woman she would have known that Ellen would have needed that kind of 'therapy'. Hammod gives her her present and hopes it will cheer her up. Ellen does cheer up.
I can't help wondering if a modern woman's response of 'I just miscarried and you think ruby earrings will fix this' is a real slap in the face to a man who is genuinely showing love but in a 'masculine way' which comes across  as 'clumsy' to a female mind. Do modern women expect men to be like women? And also for them to be men at the same time? Pie in the sky?

Reminds me of a song by British boy band 'Blur' called 'Girls and boys'.
The chorus goes something like this:
"Girls who are boys
Who like boys to be girls
Who do boys like they're girls
Who do girls like they're boys..."

Don't know about you, but my head is spining from the confusion :-)

Ellen of course was in no position to be haughty, as a slave woman, but she still could have been. It seems it is just part of her personality to be 'humble'.
Is this a missing part of modern womanhood as perceived by men?
Are men expecting too much of modern woman? Ditto pie in the sky?


Anonymous said...

Spacetraveler said...

"Cuckoldry. A man's greatest fear..."

"Betrayal/cuckoldry. A man's worst nightmare."

Again, you didn't quite get it. Even with the subtext of slavery, even with the Patriarchy staring at us with the double standard, it's not the greatest fear or nightmare.

If you had said, "Cuckoldry. The worst form of betrayal.." you'd be on the right path. Betrayal, lack of loyalty, abandonment of commitment, all those are the nightmare of which you speak. But, even with all the subplots, this man (Never saw this movie, probably won't) did nothing to deserve the loyalty he expects from a wife. Despite the culture which allowed him sexual predatory status without consequences on slave women, he failed, in epic fashion, to follow his own marriage vows. No, this is not a man who can expect loyalty.

Looking at the new bride, it must be admitted she has some serious baggage, but considering the 13 year old claim, surely it's not something for which we could saddle her with any blame. Regardless of that point, she is right in blaming her husband for her own lack of loyalty. Sure, with slave females in such a strange society, his betrayal is that much more horrifying to her, but the basic fact remains, his was the original betrayal.

You asked if a man can forgive cuckoldry... well, I cannot speak for all men, but I could easily ignore the games she played as an immature 13 year old girl. That one is her brother's fault, if he was an adult. The bearing of another man's child, in the context of this movie? Problem is, we're not allowed to view this movie with modern eyes, as if slavery was wrong to these people. How can we say the father was a moral man, when he owned slaves? How can we possibly say the son/husband was in love with a slave, when he paid money for her? If we accept their society as valid for the time period, then what the wife did was wrong, in the context of the times. She should have just left her husband. And, what the husband did afterwards was wrong, he should have just kicked the wife off the plantation.

Some men can forgive anything, if the love they bear is strong enough. For me, such an act would kill any love I had. Believe me, love can be killed.

The sensitive topic you mention, the film's ability to suggest that the son/husband was not raping the slave women... sorry, even without seeing the film, I gotta call bullshirt. Roman Polanski got hundreds of his celebrity friends to say publicly that what he did with a 13 year old girl wasn't "Rape-rape". I wonder, had the rapist been a conservative talk-show host, would it be "Rape-rape"? And, had the girls been in a brothel, and white, both perfectly legal at the time of the movie's setting, would it be rape?

As was said on your blog a couple weeks ago, principles are either followed completely, or the person is not principled. That seems to be a 'non-negotiable', and it's one I understand very well.

The whole movie seems to be one that the director was attempting to show the evils of slavery as well as the evils of patriarchy in one fell swoop. Yet, anyone with an ounce of brains can look back at the reality of that time in history, and show evil existed by our modern eyes. Want to bet that a hundred years from now, someone could make a movie about how men are put in debtor's prison for failing to make child support payments regardless of his being unemployed, and call it evil? How about the systemic denial of basic human rights across EVERY single nation on this planet?


"Are men expecting too much of modern woman?"

Clearly so, if men are going their own way and refusing to marry. Equally clear is that modern women are also expecting too much of men.

The Navy Corpsman

Lost said...

And here i thought Mandingo was just a male pornstar with a massive dick.....

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

Thanks for your points.
Yes, the cuckoldry/betrayal thing should have been worded better.

I agree that this movie's context of slavery makes it really difficult to tease out the clandestine SMP issues it conceals.

Blanche's story is sad inasmuchas she was probably raped by her brother, yes. Although there is a scene where one gets a different impression...It is never mentioned how old he was when this happened, but it is clear that he is indeed an older brother.
But in a way, this brings up another question. Why didn't she just tell Hammond all this before marriage? She clearly intended to deceive him, given that virginity was held in high esteem in her era. It seems to me that she only married Hammond to escape her old life, quite possibly her brother too. So she was a reluctant bride in the sense that she married for all the wrong reasons.
Hammond did not go looking for Elen until after he discovered Blanche's secret. So actually, his cheating was a reaction to her 'cheating' him out of a virgin bride. I guess to a man who was used to having virgins, to end up with a non-virgin wife would have been quite the insult, whatever the circumstances surrounding his wife's case.
You say Hammond should have kicked her out of the plantation.
Perhaps that would have been worse for her? Because that would have effectively turned her into a divorced woman in an era where no-one got divorced, and then there would have been the inevitable question...why? She couldn't really leave Hammond either for the very same reason. Blanche was effectively stuck.

She had it bad, I agree. But she could have made it work. In any case, there was no need to go sleep with Mede. Here's an example of the double standard at work: when he did it, it worked out great for him. When she did it, it ended up real bad for her and everyone concerned.
Every woman should know this, I think.

@ Lost,

Your irreverence is off the chart, mister!

Lost said...

I find you comment irreverent. Merely stating a fact that isn't insulting, demeaning, judging and so on and so for about the party i am speaking with is hardly disrespectful.

Search "mandingo" in google and the second result will justify my "irreverence"

by the way i'm trying to catch up on your blog with no success.. you write way too much for this guy

Spacetraveller said...

@ Lost,

"Search "mandingo" in google and the second result will justify my "irreverence" "

Well, I did, and then wished immediately I hadn't.
I never learn...

Yes this was a looong post.
Apologies for that.
Too many issues in this film!

Spacetraveller said...


Had I not known better, I might have mistaken you for a Brit...

I just realised something amusing.
You seem to have backed up what the post on 'The Shock factor' is all about.
A woman could have made your Mandingo comment, for sure, but let's face it, it was always going to be a bloke, right?

Lost said...

Why would you want for me to be British?

But yes i live by "The shock factor" and irreverent humour.....

I'll give you an example, making a honking noise while squeazing one of my partner's breasts. Now THAT'S irreverence being off the charts.... And it isn't even the worst things i've done.

Spacetraveller said...


"And it isn't even the worst things i've done."
Somehow I am inclined to believe you on this one LOL.

The British are particularly prone to irreverence despite 'stiff upper lip' on the outside...

Men can sure get away with this more than women, though. Social protocole dictates so :-)

Anacaona said...

Interesting analysis
I don't know what gender is anonimous but he/she kind of misses the point. Back in the day a woman only needed to be past puberty to be considered of age. In many countries still 13 is the age of consent. I despise Roman Polanski with the fire of two thousand suns but this are two different issues.
Given that I still remember the times when virginity was considered of great value to a woman Blanche I think was depicted as a tragic villain. She had something bad happened to her that might or might not sour her as a person but then any woman from that time would had known that she indeed deceived her husband and will had tried to "compensate" by being a model wife probably beyond another wife would. Because virginity was the "seal of guarantee" that you were a loyal, virtuous woman without that you needed to proof that in other ways thus you are right many women did had to work harder after the wedding night but few men in love will kick out their young exciting brides if they were honest about it and showed the model behaviour they expected. Again a woman not being a virgin at the wedding night was the equivalent of a man pretending to be rich just to take you to leave in dumpster back then.
Blanche was just going in a downward spiral and drag in it as many people as she could, I'm sure feminist will read her as a victim of patriarchy but again with context she doesn't seem so much a victim IMO, YMMV.
Great analysis!

Spacetraveller said...

@ Anacaona,

Welcome to The Sanctuary!
It's really nice to see you here.
Thanks for your comment on this film.

'Anonymous' is a man, AKA The Navy Corpsman.

You know what Anacaona?
I was stunned by your comment.
I do agree with you 100%. But I can see how many might construe yours and my viewpoint as misogynistic. Indeed it is said that women are the most misogynistic of all, much more than men.
I am especially pleased to see that you 'get' the point I was clumsily trying to make about Blanche. It is not so much the loss of her virginity that is the problem, but her underlying bad character which was exposed throughout the course of the film, first with her deception of Hammond, then her maltreatment of Ellen, then her entrapping of Mede. As you say, she was determined to drag everyone else down with her as she sank lower and lower into the pit of her own making. This is why I insist that despite her unfortunate past she could still have made a great wife and ousted Ellen as a candidate for Hammond's affections. She really had it in her power to turn things around, but she chose the 'path of least resistance' aka low-hanging fruit and went for the 'easy' but destructive option.
I am also all for virginity, but recognise that it is not a proxy for 'good character' necessarily. In this sense, it is just another trait a woman has in her 'armoury' like 'beauty', (albeit more important than beauty because it takes a certain strength of character to remain chaste wheras one is born beautiful).
I suspect that even if Blanche had been a virgin, she would still have found a way to mess up her marriage. Too immature.

Cruel to be kind...
If Blanche were my friend, I would tell her all the above, with the words "Yer doin' it wrong, sista, yer doin' it wrong."

The age of consent is 13 in some countries? I didn't know that. I thought it was 16 across the board.

If I were in charge I would raise it to 18. In the old days, a 13 year old girl was probably already mature (she had to be - she was facing the prospect of imminent motherhood). Not so anymore. Feminism has raised the age at which many women today mature.

Anonymous said...

Anacaona said...

"Interesting analysis
I don't know what gender is anonimous but he/she kind of misses the point. Back in the day a woman only needed to be past puberty to be considered of age. In many countries still 13 is the age of consent."

Maybe so, Anacaona, but 13 year old girls playing games with brother incest don't exactly equivocate to age of consent.

Spacetraveler, I suspect you tend to condemn bad behavior in women more easily than in men, just as I condemn bad behavior in men much more easily than in women. By the same token, we both have serious issues with the last wave of feminism, but I'm pretty sure you agree with me that both female feminists and 'mangina' men are part of this last, current wave of feminism.

Like I said, I'll never watch this movie, but I still think the husband was the screwy one here. And you'll probably never change your mind that the wife was the wrong, not the wronged. It's ok that we differ, it's just a movie. And if virginity was such a huge thing during the time setting of the movie, why didn't the husband just annul the marriage? It was fairly easy to do back then, all you needed was proof of no virginity, according to what I have read. But, then there is also the issue of cousins marrying, which was often a huge no-no in those days.

Too much drama, nothing blowing up, not a guy flick.

The Navy Corpsman

Anacaona said...

Glad you like me here.
I was attracted to this post because is rare to have someone to get past race and see other things on this type of movies really rare.

Is funny that someone will use the M word because I'm just talking about Blanche. Not about all women, all virgins or all married women. I'm judging her for a whole set of events. Feminism loves to use all women arguments when it suits them.
Virginity was something that the whole family and environment had to work to keep so unavoidably some of them will fail and there is why there was other ways to deal with this. One has to wonder were Blanche's mother was in all this she would had not allowed too much closeness with a brother and in the case of something happening she would had instructed her daughter how to deal with the situation without getting humiliated by a future husband.
I still think that if they would had wanted to portray Blanche in a better light they would had tried to show more about her abuse, like some details about how this was going on for years, how much she suffered, how much no one believed her and so on. The fact that it was treated like "token" reason makes me feel we weren't supposed to like her that much, YMMV.

I'm not sure about the age of consent myself. I always though that people should have a license for adulthood after passing a serious of psychological, social and mental tests and then get all the benefits of adulthood (sex, jobs, driving) when we are sure they understand the responsibilities, so I don't believe age being the ultimate factor but real maturity, again YMMV.

Spacetraveller said...

"I always though that people should have a license for adulthood after passing a serious of psychological, social and mental tests and then get all the benefits of adulthood (sex, jobs, driving) when we are sure they understand the responsibilities,..."

Anacaona, have you thought about going into politics?
I'll vote for you if you do.
This comment of yours made me laugh out loud. I don't think I have ever heard anyone suggest this before. But clearly, this sort of thing IS required nowadays for certain factions of 'youff culture'.
But somehow, I can see that you and I will be outvoted on this one though...

Anacaona said...

I have one vote! Woohooo!
Oh well I can always write this license features on my futuristics novels, dreaming is all left sometimes.

Lost said...

All men from all cultures are naturally irreverent and dirty, the brits just create a shock and awe with that fact because they have this worldwide image or discipline and proper manner. so to speak

Anonymous said...

Stop sticking up for her. She was just plain mean. And she fucked it up for everyone that lived there. She liked to drink get nasty and have it her Way. it is just shocking because people think white lady's are far from this image. And the white guy was nice and loved black chicks. He made sweet love to them. And was cool with the male slaves. Deep down if he could he would have left with Ellen and there kid. He was a good guy in those times. And it's just shocking because every one thinks white men are most of the time power hungry and evil. And the slave chick had a white man under her finger. He took her on rides and gave her rubys and he hated to see her upset. So he would let there child be free just for her. And it's shocking because why would a white man go out his way for a black slave woman. And mr Mandingo was hard working and he did what ever his slaver owner asked. Why? Because he was brainwashed and thought he was really his friend. Why do you think he won the fight? Because his owner wanted to stop the fight because he seen how fucked Mandingo was and he did not want him killed. And mandingo was shocked and he won just of that reaction of haveing a white man care. And it's shocking because he was a black man that was bigger better stronger more hardworking and loyal then most men wish they could ever be. And I'm Aisan and this showed me that all the stereotypes we have today are nothing but. And white people really deep down admire black ones. Well.... Or they might just be sexual attracted to them.

Spacetraveller said...

@ Anonymous,

"Stop sticking up for her. She was just plain mean."

If you mean Blanche, I don't stick up for her, at least not much!
I do have some sympathy for her, because she was young, and afterall, incest is not something a girl would normally initiate, even though we can safely say that she was not 'raped' by her brother per se, except of course in the 'statutory rape' legal sense if she had been underage when it happened.
I totally agree with you that most of the usual stereotypes of people of differnt races/classes were destroyed by the characters in this movie. Thanks for pointing that out - I think I missed this in my review of the film, as I concentrated mostly on the SMP issues it demonstrates.
I think it is indeed a very clever film.