Ganja & Hess (1973)
Pssst, want to check out Ganja & Hess in our new look?
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Just a couple of ideas short of a masterpiece.
Vampires and blaxploitation through an art house filter, Ganja & Hess is a strange and often difficult watch because on a technical level, it has several problems. Sound is often terrible, the narrative is sometimes disjointed, and there are definite longueurs that make you wonder if they're trying to reproduce an immortal's boredom. It does create the sense that we're watching a documentary though, with real unscripted conversations, and the natural (if maddening on screen) pace of life. And the film has several other things going for it, like interesting composition, an unusual take on vampirism, and Marlene Clark's memorable performance as a woman who is forced into a certain kind of life only to be abandoned to it. The subtext is really everything. This is a film about the black experience, with African culture (Hess' vampirism comes from having been stabbed by an ancient tribal knife) being converted and destroyed by Christianity (which has its own blood rituals, such is white hypocrisy). That this happens WILLINGLY speaks to the dangers of assimilation, and in Ganja, we have a further development - once assimilated into the melting pot, you get nothing for your sacrifice. Interesting ideas to ponder, and the film's poetics rescue it from its languid pace and technical issues. But I'd be in no hurry to revisit it.
pretty awful, but maybe i just couldn't get into it
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!