Fela Kuti: Music Is the Weapon (1982)

Genres - Music  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Music History, Politics & Government, Vocal Music  |   Run Time - 52 min.  |  
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Filmed in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1982, this 53-minute documentary mixes footage of Fela Anikulapo Kuti performing at his Shrine nightclub, interviews with the controversial musician, glimpses of life at his not-so-palatial Kalakuta Republic compound, and scenes of Lagos street life. Some voice-over narration gives viewers basic information on Kuti's musical career and Nigerian politics, but for the most part, the images are left to speak for themselves. Well shot in color, it's an important historical document capturing Kuti in stage and home environments that were most crucial to his life and work. The highlights are the scenes at the Shrine, where Kuti and his band perform "ITT," "Army Arrangement," "Power Show," and "Authority Stealing," the lithe frontman decked out in various colorful suits (or, sometimes, with nothing but briefs and, at others, with gaudy face paint). The interview segments cover his resistance to the Nigerian regime, his controversial polygamous lifestyle, and his arrests and beatings, though the accents (particularly when other members of his extended family are interviewed) are sometimes hard for North Americans to understand.

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Keywords

archival-footage, career-retrospective, concert-footage, corruption, music-star, Nigeria, philosophy, polygamy, spirituality, violence, world-music