Mudbound (2017) The lighthearted story of post-WWII brothers working a played out farm, barely keeping the family fed and about to go bust at any time and lose the mudbog fields and ramshackle house where they live with their bitterly racist old father, one with a miserable, loveless marriage with a wife who just lost their only potential son to a miscarriage and is now barren, the other a drunken, loutish shell-shocked veteran and their impoverished black sharecropper tenant farmers, who, unlikely as it may be, are even poorer and nearer destitute than their white landlords, with the father breaking his leg and unable to work and their own son back from the war, embittered and at odds with the racist white townspeople. We start with that idyllic scenario, but things go bad.
You can see that this story is going nowhere but bummerland, but after being mutilated by the KKK the black eldest son finds a happy ending by returning to post-war Germany, which supposedly in this movie is better off than America after the war, with his girlfriend and bastard son enjoying a lovely house and swanky lifestyle. Number one, I don’t think Americans had much contact with German girls, I further doubt they were seen as liberators anymore than Unions troops entering Vicksburg and lastly I do believe life was a little tough for German civilians after the war, to the point even 1940’s Mississippi would have been more prosperous, at least at first. But we have our happy ending, doesn’t tell us what happened to the unfortunate folks back home.
The black family last seen resentfully leaving the only whites who had ever shown them any kindness or fellow-feeling (although the deceased Pappy did help cut their son’s tongue out, at least they didn’t castrate him, so there’s that.)
This movie left me with a quandary: If forced to choose, would you rather be blinded, have your tongue cut out, have your nuts cut off or just go ahead and be lynched? Man, that’s a tough one, but if you were as young as that guy losing your nuts would almost guarantee you would never go bald, as testosterone is found to cause baldness, but then what good would it do you with the ladies because I’m guessing you’d be unable to get it up? I guess losing his tongue was the lesser of evils, but if I were the writer I’d have made him a fantastic and moving singer, like Ariel, so that losing his tongue would have had all that much more poignancy and pathos.
Because that’s all this movie has going for it, there’s hardly a speck of joy or lightness in this mudbound movie.
We get plenty of “racism is bad, mm’kay?” hammers beat over our head though. The black guy fought in the war, gets treated savagely back home, returns to GERMANY (!) for peace and to be accepted without prejudice.
Really, pretty despicable they made it Germany, that paragon of tolerance instead of France, which would have been more plausible, but I guess they were going for maximum irony above credibility or verisimilitude. Just to be clear, the Nazies, and most Germans, saw black people as barely more than apes walking upright, which even white Mississippians were past. The family owed their livelihood (and their father’s health after stupidly falling off a ladder) to white people. At least they didn’t put them in ovens, as the Germans surely would have had they the option. And the white brother, back from the war (who would have been played by Guy Pearce 10-20 years ago) actually bonds with the black vet and they enjoy getting drunk and telling war stories all night long.
I’m not saying the South post-WWII was a paradise for minorities, but I’d say the chance of being lynched is better than the certitude of getting gassed.
Score:2 unremitting sorrow, misery, hatred and bad vibes, all wrapped around a dull blunt hammer of racialist preaching and pacifist posturing. I guess we should have let Hitler alone to avoid ne’er do well Southerners from ending up useless drunks after the war.