The Long Song is an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel. This is not only an excellent production to highlight Black History Month, but it tells an interesting story on its own and captures the hearts of the viewers. England took over Jamaica when it was captured from the Spanish in 1655 setting up the immigration of people of color and the problems of acceptance that still plague London and the rest of the U.K. Jamaica became independent in 1962. The story is of the final days of slavery and the fall of slavery in 19th century Jamaica. It involves the born into slavery July and her mistress, Caroline, on a sugar cane plantation . . . and the man who beds them both.
In this three episode mini-series we see the evils of slavery, which are a long way from what many people are led to believe today. It was a hard life. The series shows this well . . . amid viewer warnings.
Tamara Lawrance plays July. July is a loving mother who wants the best for her children. She is the personal maid of Caroline. It would be a battle of wits, but Caroline is pretty much shooting blanks. July fights for what she believes in and tries to help everyone. She has little power and so she generally loses.
Haley Atwell plays Caroline. Atwell has been in tons of TV series and a few films. Wardrobe, make-up, and acting skill transforms the beautiful Atwell into the dumb and clown clothes wearing Mistress Caroline. Although you start off hating Caroline, you mostly end up feeling sorry for her.
Jack Lowden plays the new plantation overseer Robert Goodwin. Goodwin first appears to be bringing the sweet air of change to the once slave run plantation. He marries Caroline, but beds July. He finally panics when he realizes that he can’t bend the will of his workers and he shows his true colors as he reverts to slave driving tactics. No one wins.
Watch the trailer – imdb.com/video/vi2469837337
The song Hill and Gully Rider is a famous Jamaican folk song. It’s a call and response tune that dates back to the 19th century. When the slaves sing the tune in The Long Song, it sounds more like a warning, which it could well have been. I always like to listen to the background music and the songs that underlie most films. I really enjoyed them in the Small Axe five-part series by Steve McQueen, which tells the plight of the Caribbean immigrants who ended up in England.
While watching The Long Song I saw a familiar face. I thought that Ansu Kabia must have been involved in the Small Axe series, but no. I was wrong. He’s a central character in Miss Scarlet and the Duke (a new PBS series). In Miss Scarlet, Kabia plays the part of Moses, a shady character with a good heart . . . if the price is right. In The Long Song he plays a former slave being forced back into bondage. Very nice acting.
For more information about The Long Song visit – imdb.com/title/tt8270592/
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.