Born in the French colony of Martinique in 1925, Fanon went to France to study medicine and psychiatry. In 1952, he published his book “Black Skin White Mask,” in which he developed his anti-colonialist platform about the complex relationship between masters and slaves, showing not only the polarity of power but also the mutual dependency — specifically, the masters’ dependency on recognition from their slaves and the notion that racism is a denial of that recognition.
Embraced by Paris’ literary circles, headed by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Fanon developed an ambiguous attitude not only toward his position as a black supported mostly by white intellectuals, but also toward his own sexual desire and identity; he was attracted to white women and had some homosexual affairs.
Sartre went on record claiming that it is “through Fanon’s voice that the Third World finds and speaks for itself.” And among the contemporary critics interviewed for the film, Brit Stuart Hall describes Fanon’s book “The Wretched of the Earth” as “the bible of the decolonization movement.” Indeed, Fanon became so politically engaged that he left his position as psychiatrist in an Algerian hospital to join the Algerian National Liberation Front, hence igniting the ire of the French army, which declared him a traitor. Algeria gained independence in 1961, just months after Fanon’s untimely death from leukemia.
Film draws parallels between Fanon’s life, and assimilation illusions, as an exile in Paris and the course of the anti-colonial movement. Structured as an intricate pastiche of archival footage and new dramatic re-creations, “Frantz Fanon” boasts a richness and complexity that do full justice to the stature of the man it commemorates.