Truths, lies and telling silences in Gutiérrez Alea’s The Last Supper and Pontecorvo’s Burn! | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-4837
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4845



This article explores the special challenges inherent in filmic depictions of New World slavery, and examines how directors Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Gillo Pontecorvo address these obstacles respectively. Through explicit and implicit recourse to narrative and factual falsehoods, The Last Supper and Burn! both attempt to correct the partial text of history by situating their enslaved characters at the centre of the action and providing them a space in which to express resistance through voice, gesture and determined silence. While each author works from an anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist political stance characteristic of revolutionary film-making in the 1960s and 1970s, significant differences in production environments and directorial decisions regarding the historical record affected each film’s ability to convey the ‘truth’ of Caribbean slavery. Despite the relative successes and failures of each film, I argue that both remain useful tools for fleshing out a textual history in which the enslaved are rarely portrayed as the principal actors of historical events.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Caribbean; Cuba; gesture; postcolonial critique; revolutionary cinema; slavery
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