Mesmerising … two hours of complete spellbinding tv …
stunningly documented …
|Sir Steve McQueen with his Oscar|
for 12 Years a Slave
I was bowled over … an incredible film … it felt so
real – and has had outstanding reviews.
It is a film for everyone – about Caribbean people’s history in Britain that
has never been brought to life and should be available for us to understand the
struggles of their backstory.
The storyline is ‘perfect’
for a film to tell the narrative of a ground-breaking true life drama … with
excellent acting – I really can’t praise it enough.
|The actors as defendants in the film|
c/o Bustle media
One member of the Mangrove Nine was a friend of Steve McQueen’s father … while his parents were part of that
community during the late 1960s and 1970s … so the Mangrove Nine’s landmark 1970
Old Bailey trial would have been well known to McQueen’s family …
Frank Crichlow, who owned and set up The Mangrove’s
Caribbean restaurant, became a community activist, after racially motivated
police persecuted him, his friends and the restaurant.
|Shaun Parkes plays|
The restaurant was over the years a meeting place for
the Black community in the area, as well as for white radicals, artists,
authors, and musicians.
|Vanessa Redgrave at Cannes 2016|
Famous customers included Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone,
Bob Marley, Vanessa Redgrave, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Sammy Davis Jr and
many activists, journalists and historians from Britain, South Africa, Australia,
Trinidad, Guyana …
|Jimi Hendrix (1967)|
... a small newspaper, The Hustler, was
published on the premises, underlining the community aspect of the restaurant –
which also served as the informal head for the Notting Hill Carnival.
Some links I give below give more background to this
fascinating story, but I thought I’d relate back to the posts of my recent
return visit to Notting Hill where I lived back in the 1970s and to my visit that
day to Tate Modern – when I first encountered Steve MacQueen’s Small Axe series.
|Part of Tate Modern's brochure|
regarding McQueen's exhibition
earlier in 2020 - and where I first
came across the mini series "Small Axe"
I gave some background to the development of the area
from the 1750s onwards – but which did not touch the cultural and political
aspects of life in the 1960s – 1980s in the Notting Hill area … so I’m weaving
in and adding to the development I wrote about in those posts. NB
I was politically and culturally unaware … time does change one’s perspective.
I know in my previous posts I only mentioned the
Notting Hill Carnival – but from the origins of The Mangrove’s troubles with
the police the Notting Hill Carnival developed. I did not participate … I didn’t understand
what it was about … and I really don’t like large crowds, nor am I musical or
creative in that sense. But – the
learning today is fascinating having lived in that area …
"Small Axe" (the name came) from Bob Marley
& The Wailers' 1973 Songs of Freedom album! The name comes from an African proverb ... 'if you are the big tree - we are the small axe' ...
(miniseries) – there are five films … four true stories, one imagined … which premiered at the 58th New York Film Festival this year. They are being shown on BBC1 and are
available on Amazon Prime.
“The Mangrove Nine” – was the first shown last Sunday on
BBC1 – I am now looking forward to four more Sunday evenings of engrossing
|Letitia Wright as Shuri in|
Black Panther poster
There are many well-known actors in these films …
Letitia Wright – who was Shuri in the Black Panther series – plays British
Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe, who, along with eight other Black
activists, was arrested and charged with inciting after a peaceful protest in
1970. John Boyega of Star Wars fame
appears in a later film.
|John Boyega appears in one of the |
later films (c/o Gage Skidmore)
The latter part of the story line centres around the
trial at the ‘Old Bailey’ (the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales) and
the activists’ rightful non-conformity to the British legal system.
|Lady Justice statue on Old Bailey|
Macdonald, QC wrote in Race Today*: “The Mangrove
Nine trial was a watershed because we learnt through experience how to confront
the power of the court, because the defendants refused to play the role of ‘victim’
and rely on the so-called ‘expertise’ of the lawyer. Once you recognise the defendant as a
self-assertive human being, everything in the court has to change.”
I kept on finding out more as I explored articles for
this post … including the fact that the area became gentrified during the late
1980s – 90s and onwards – which explains the changes I came across.
|Interior of Old Bailey|
The Mangrove was near recording studios that Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, The Clash, Queen, and many others came to record their
music - known now as SARM studios (an acronym of Sound and Recording Mobiles).
I think I’d better wrap this up … but as you’ll have
gathered … I highly recommend this series.
The Mangrove Nine *
The Mangrove Restaurant
Small Axe (mini series) ...
Bustle - the media company's review of McQueen's first Small Axe film: The Mangrove Nine
Youtube 1992 recording of Small Axe song by Bob Marley and the Wailers ...
My post on Steve McQueen's exhibit at Tate Modern early in 2020 ...
My post (first of three) on my Notting Hill visits - the history and my memories ...
BBC News article on 'Mangrove Nine' - echoes of black lives matter from 50 years ago ... with press footage, details of the coverage ... and photos ... this is excellent to read.
Steve McQueen's exhibition at the Tate - there's a downloadable brochure via the link.
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