Sobering docu describes the involuntary servitude of African-Americans that continued long past the Emancipation Proclamation.
Spanning the eight decades between the end of the Civil War and the start of U.S. involvement in World War II, Sam Pollard’s well-made and sobering docu “Slavery by Another Name” illustrates the little-known fact that the involuntary servitude of African-Americans continued long past the Emancipation Proclamation. Based on the like-titled book by Douglas Blackmon, who appears among the many talking heads here, Pollard’s pic incorporates handsomely produced re-enactments that add only marginally to the film’s impact. Powerful if prosaic docu airs Feb. 13 on PBS and merits a long life on the educational circuit thereafter.
Featuring interviews with the descendants of forced laborers and their white overlords, the film lays bare what scholar Adam Green calls a “fiendishly rational” system of violent oppression. Following the passage of the 13th Amendment and the attendant anxiety of former slave-owners in the Deep South, laws were designed to entrap and convict newly freed blacks and return them to servitude. Dramatic re-enactments, with actors in the roles of de facto slaves, are based on original documents discovered by Blackmon in the course of his Pulitzer-winning work. Tech credits are pro.