Gold Coast attempts to detail one man’s mission to wipe out the slave trade in Danish Guinea. It succeeds, but at a sizeable price.
Based partially on the letters of a real-life botanist, Joseph Wulff (Jakob Oftebro) arrives in Danish Guinea full of hope and plans to start up a commercial coffee plantation. He begins to work with the native inhabitants of the area and defies the colonialism of the day. He valiantly attempts to overthrow the corrupt forces that act to keep the Empire well-lubricated and functional.
This is a period of Danish history I never knew existed so naturally I started to watch this film full of hope that I would be riveted from start to finish, unfortunately, I was not. It is hard to know where to start. The story (partly true) is fine, but it is treated in an expressionistic style and we find the protagonist musing about life and the beauty of nature. This technique slows the story and I found my mind drifting and wanting to take a break.
The music is appalling. It ranges from techno throbbing to an out of tune piano. I can find no correlation between this modern style of music and 1836; they seem at odds with each other.
One particularly puzzling element is the Governor of the camp who seems drunk in the first scene we encounter him. But then, as the film progresses, he gets sicker and sicker and finally dies. There is no explanation in the film for his malaise.
Jakob Oftebro’s portrayal of Wulff is intense and brooding, but even this cannot save the film.
There are certainly some startling images – Wulff being urinated on by his fellow officers, people being flogged and a jail cell full of naked men and women. While this certainly strikes home, the movie is so bogged down by imagery and lack of pace that it does not hold the viewer.
A well-meaning film that lacks focus, particularly when watching it as a foreign language film (it may be an inaccurate translation).
Reviewed by Barry Hill
Rating out of 10: 2