Arrow Video: Black Venus (2010) Reviewed

From 2010 comes the period piece and character study called Black Venus

Initially missed by most, with only four reviews on Rotten Tomatoes at 100 percent, this piece of cinema paints a vile side of the human condition that lived in a world of sad exploitation, racism, and unfiltered misogyny that's tainted by mankind's awful obsession at destroying what we don't know. With period perfect set design, a nearly voyeuristic approach to the performances, and a stunning portrayal by freshmen actress Yahima Torres, this is a must see for historical buffs and those that need a lesson in how far we've come. And it might just be a smack in the face to those that still live their lives cloaked in bigotry. 

Sarah Baartman (Saartjie) became a locally famous South African Khokhoi women that was put on display as a sideshow attraction due to her large buttocks and other features. Over time, she was put through abuse, scientific torture, and gross sexualization that would be her eventual downfall. The story of her plight is captured in a movie that actually made me feel physically ill at times. Digging deep into the details of her existence, we are reminded of evil at its most basic core. Saartjie was a unique beauty that should have been celebrated instead of destroyed emotionally and physically. Black Venus definitely requires a level of sympathy to get through. This is a film that pushes boundaries and begs its viewer to sit through boundless amounts of despicable acts and maltreatment. 

This true life tale of the Venus Hottentot captures men at their most brutal and a beautiful woman that was treated like an animal by her keepers. Black Venus is not a film for the weak willed with its straight the point theatrical style. This is a vital part of entertainment history that must be told in order to eliminate the desire to ever let something like this happen again to a kind and forgiving soul. Through a lens that shows Saartjie evolving to meet the whims of her managers to the devolvement of her final days, Blue is the Warmest Color director Abdellatif Kechiche flaunts his skills at digging deep into the human condition as he put his audience through a deeply disturbing chapter in performance art that also shows exactly why the feminist movement needs to exist. 

Capturing the environmental elements of Great Britain and France in the late 1700s and early 1800s is never an easy feat. Kechiche and his crew did a wonderful job recreating the look and feel with a very limited budget that may not have worked in less capable hands. By enticing us with excellent costume design and top tier sets, Black Venus is a virtual time machine that must be seen by fans of cinema and those that know nothing of her story. This movie is sheer brilliance that deserves to be seen by many more.