Review: ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (M) ****

THE title of UK-based writer/director Biyi Bandele’s debut feature describes the Biafran flag.

In 1960, Nigeria became independent with borders not reflecting its ethnic composition. In 1966, coup and counter-coup led in May 1967 to secession of the eastern region as Biafra, which led to perhaps a million deaths from military and health causes.

yellowsun_largeBorn around the demise of Biafra, Bandele has adapted a novel by academic Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie into a powerful, beautiful, credible film about the events leading to, during and after Biafra.

On independence, when Olanna (Thandie Newton) returns after receiving Harvard and Oxford degrees, she begins a relationship with revolutionary professor Odenigbo (Chewitel Ejiofor). Her twin Kainene (Anika Noni Rose), managing the family’s business interests, finds herself fascinated by British writer Richard (Joseph Mawle).

What happened nearly half a century ago in a corner of Africa about which most Australians probably know little becomes on screen a wonderful collection of themes, ideas, events, relationships and historical perspectives combined into a profound cinematic experience. The people are beautiful. The landscapes are breathtaking. The staging of events both joyous and grim is convincing.

Which all add up to a film worth seeing.

At Palace Electric and Capitol 6

 

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