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Fables Slave Traders Tell: Tamango (1958)

Written by Ruth at Silver Screenings!

According to the Global Slavery Index, approximately 40.3 million people “were victims of modern slavery on any given day in 2016.”¹

“Of these, 24.9 million people were in forced labour,” continues the report, “and 15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage.”²

Slavery is Big Business. According to the 50 for Freedom Campaign, “forced labour generates annual profits of over US$150 billion, which is as much as the combined profits of the four most profitable companies in the world.”³

Tamango (1958), a French-Italian production, examines the business of slavery, and the fables slave traders tell themselves.

Tamango stars Dorothy Dandridge as a young woman born into slavery on an American plantation. She works for wealthy slave trader Curd Jürgens – and by “works for” we mean, “is a personal slave to”.

The film takes place in 1820, as Jürgens picks up new “cargo” (future slaves) from African traders in exchange for 25 rifles and two barrels of rum. Slavery is outlawed, but Jürgens provides a Valuable Service to his buyers. He’s a decent man; why, if he didn’t sell slaves, someone unscrupulous would do it, and that would ruin people’s lives.

To read the rest of Ruth's review of Tamango click here!

Then, head on over to The Film Detective to catch the film!


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