Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Filmmakers Pippa Scott and Oreet Rees explore the reprehensible legacy of Belgium's King Leopold II in this documentary adaptation of Adam Hochschild's best-selling book. His envy growing as powerful neighbors France, England, and the Netherlands began claiming valuable African coastal land in order to access a variety of precious resources, Leopold eventually opted to follow the path carved out by explorer Henry Morgan Stanley that led directly into the heart of the Congo. An agent for private interests whose primary goal it was to build routes out of the Congo so that the valuable resources could be exported back to Europe, Stanley achieved his goal by utilizing forced labor and effectively militarizing what was previously a land of tribal alliances. With Leopold's grip on the region gradually tightening until it became, for all intents and purposes, his own private reserve, the devious ruler would subsequently launch a successful public relationship campaign stressing that his enterprise was both humane and anti-slavery oriented. Narrated by a series of experts and actors who include Don Cheadle, James Cromwell, and Alfie Woodard, Scott and Rees' film eventually turns its attentions towards contemporary events that chillingly recall Leopold's notorious endeavor.
Belgium, colonialism, Congo, exploitation, exploration, king, natural-resources