Goodbye Uncle Tom / Addio zio Tom (1971)

2.0 out of 5

Jacopetti and Prosperi continued their series of mondo 'documentaries' with this controversial treatment of the subject of slavery in the United States. While the scenes of the horrendous treatment of Africans are undeniably effective, especially the counterpoint between the romantic images of the colonial mansions and the squalor of the slave ships. The conditions are portrayed in unflinching detail, with blacks hung upside down and fumigated.

There are several surreal touches, starting with the arrival of the crew by helicopter in the 19th century, and several characters addressing the camera directly. Unfortunately, the dubious moral codes of the mondo cycle soon intrude, and damages any claims of making a serious work. The camera lingers over the naked bodies of the 'studs' and 'wenches' at a meat market, and a bizarre re-enactment at the climax shows the massacre by slaves of their masters.

As with most mondo, any claims of integrity are marred by the lurid style, and worrying racist undertones. Jacopetti's Director's cut did provide a little more balance, but Uncle Tom is for completists only.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics