- Summaries (3)
A story of slavery, set in the southern U.S. in the 1930s.
After gangster Mulligan's (Willem Dafoe's) cars colony, fleeing northern justice, finds a hiding place in Alabama, spoiled, naive daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) refuses to travel on after seeing the Manderlay cotton plantation being run under slavery rules, called Mam's (Lauren Bacall's) law, including flogging. She keeps half of dad's goons as guard to force the dying matriarch-owner's heirs, which she shamelessly dispossesses and reduces to "staff", to taste destitution under absurd, gun-imposed contracts. The "slaves" are made free partners, supposed to vote for progress after lessons from Grace. But almost all of her democracy-pupils prove to be fickle, dumb, and selfish, except old Wilhelm (Danny Glover). Her and their ignorance in Southern planting and crafty Dixie ways means more problems are created then solved. By the time dad returns to pick her up or abandon her for good, she's the one who has learned and changed the most.
In 1933, after leaving Dogville, while traveling with her father (Willem Dafoe) and his gangsters to the southern U.S., Grace Margaret Mulligan (Bryce Dallas Howard) sees a slave ready to be punished on a property called Manderlay. Slavery had been abolished seventy years ago, and Grace becomes revolted with the attitude of the owners of Manderlay, keeping slaves in their cotton fields and following predetermined despicable rules called "Mam's (Lauren Bacall's) Law". Grace decides to stay with some gangsters in Manderlay and give notions of democracy to the slaves and to the white family. When harvest time comes, Grace sees the social and economical reality of Manderlay.
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