Very few notable works of Nigerian authors have successfully made a transition into cinemas. Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” comes to mind as it made a transition to television in the late 1980’s and had relative success as a television drama. Now comes the film of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2006 novel – Half of a yellow sun. Directed by rookie writer director, Biyi Bandele, the movie tells a tale of lives in Nigeria driven apart by the 1960’s Biafra war.
The film has an appropriate cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Odenigbo otherwise known as the “revolutionary” interprets his role as a conceited and strong headed academic well. Thandie Newton is impressive as the Heroine Olanna who must transform from an upper class society lady to a ranching domestic woman.
However, some of the actors were not convincing enough in their performance. Genevieve Nnaji delivers a somewhat lacklustre performance as miss Adebayo.
The director somehow conveys the story of Nigeria’s independence throughout the period of the war using news clips beginning from the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in a newly independent Nigeria to the inspirational addresses delivered by Odumegwu Ojukwu the leader of the separatist Biafra republic and the surrender of the Republic by Philip Effiong. The cars and art forms are somewhat convincing in the re enactment of the 1960’s era in which the movie is set.
The movie however offers cursory glimpses of Life in eastern Nigeria, the massacre of a select tribe at the airport and the death of Odenigbo’s friend during the wedding celebration. More so, it is evident the director holds back on the violence so as not to unsettle the audience which inadvertently makes it seem the director is less interested in the politics and more interested in the romantic conflicts.
By so doing, a mismatch is created between the movie’s enormous scope and how people identify with it. A more forceful movie might have shown the tragedy instead of reporting it second hand. However, production costs might have been a factor in choosing the second hand reporting format.
The movie nonetheless comes across as a good watch.Please, go see it.