Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Mark of the Hawk (1957)

Years ago, my brother cleaned out his storage locker.  He had quite a few DVD sets and a few individual DVDs of movies.  We’re talking those public-domain movies with bad transfer quality, some in packs of 50 movies.  One of the movies in an individual package was Mark of the Hawk.  I figured that whatever else, I could say that I had seen Sidney Poitier in a movie.  I think maybe I should have picked another of his movies to start with.

In the movie, Poitier plays Obam, who has been elected to his country’s council.  Which country, you ask?  That’s a good question.  It’s not named, but it is occupied by the British.  Odam wants the British out.  His preferred method is peaceful.  Odam’s brother, however has no qualms about using violence.  In fact, the movie starts with the brother capturing and killing a hawk to hang in front of someone’s door.

Most of the native population seems to be easily let to the brother’s method.  Obam is able to keep people at bay for a while, but it isn’t long before a group of natives and a group of British start shooting at each other.  Obam is arrested and tried, leading to a speech about how peace is the best option.

This could have been a much better movie.  At first, I thought it was going to be about violence versus peace.  I remember reading once how Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were both working towards similar goals using opposing means.  This could have been a similar allegory.  It wasn’t.  Instead of violence versus peace, it’s about accepting Jesus.  In several parts, it comes across as very preachy.

The movie does touch on issues of colonialism and racism, but it seemed kind of simplified.  I realize that the movie was made in 1957.  Some topics weren’t dealt with in a sophisticated manner when it came to movies.  I think anyone judging this movie by today’s standards is going to find it somewhat silly.  For instance, there are no specifics on where in Africa this takes place.  The language is simply referred to as the African language.  (Parts of the movie were filmed in Nigeria, according to Wikipedia.)

This was released by Treasure Box.  There were no features and the print quality was fairly low.  You might be able to find a better copy of it, but I tend not to hold out hope with these movies.  I think that for most people, this movie should be skipped.  I think the only value in watching it may be to see what movies of the era were like.  I realize that there were better offerings, but this does show what I would consider to be the lower end of the spectrum.


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