Watch Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
- 1 hr 30 min
Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death is a historical documentary from 2003 that explores the brutal exploitation of the Congo by the Belgians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The film follows the story of the Congo Free State, a personal possession of Belgium's King Leopold II, and the horrific reign of terror he unleashed upon the Congolese people.
The movie begins by setting the stage for the atrocities to come. We see the vast swathes of jungle that covered the Congo Basin and gain an understanding of the importance of rubber in the industrialized world at the time. Rubber was a vital resource used in the manufacture of goods such as tires, electrical cables, and medical equipment, and much of the world's rubber came from the Congo.
The documentary then introduces a number of key players in the story, including Henry Morton Stanley, the British explorer who helped King Leopold II of Belgium claim the Congo in the first place. We also meet a number of other figures who played a role in the exploitation of the Congo, such as the journalist Edmund Dene Morel, who exposed the atrocities taking place in the country to the world.
From there, Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death delves into the brutal reality of life in the Congo Free State. The Belgians had established a system of forced labor, under which Congolese people were forced to work in rubber plantations in order to meet the ever-increasing demands of the international market. If they failed to meet their quotas, they were brutally punished, with methods including amputations, rape, and murder.
The film uses a combination of archival footage, photographs, and interviews with historians to convey the horror of what was taking place. We see images of Congolese people with their hands cut off as punishment, and we hear from survivors of the atrocities who recount their experiences. There are also interviews with historians and experts who explain the context of what was taking place and the impact it had on the Congolese people.
One of the most striking aspects of the documentary is the way it shows the disconnect between the reality of life in the Congo and the way the Belgians portrayed it to the world. The film shows examples of propaganda films produced by the Belgian government that presented the Congo Free State as a benevolent protectorate that was bringing modernity and civilization to the African continent. We also see how human zoos featuring Congolese people were set up in Belgium and other parts of Europe, where they were put on display as exotic curiosities.
Overall, Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death is a powerful and important documentary that shines a light on a dark chapter in human history. It offers a nuanced and detailed examination of the atrocities taking place and the impact they had on the people of the Congo, while also providing insight into the wider geopolitical context of the time. While the film is at times difficult to watch due to the graphic nature of the material, it is an essential piece of historical documentation that deserves to be seen.
Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death is a 2004 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7 and a MetaScore of 65.