In 1836 the Danish romantic visionary Wulff travels to Africa to create plantations on the Gold Coast, but his best intentions and belief is soon confronted with a harsh reality dominated by slave trade and unbelievable brutality.
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Henrik Ruben Genz
The Gold Coast (Guldkysten), is a dense and visceral exploration of a dark time in European history, namely the Danish involvement in the slave trade on the African coast during the 1830s. Undoubtedly a politically charged affair, this film is also an intense portrait of obsession and individual morality.Written by
'Guldkysten' exposes the viewer to life at a Danish fort on West Africa's Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1836, focusing on a young Danish officer who goes out to start a coffee plantation as an alternative to taking slaves. The slave trade had officially stopped but was covertly continuing, which he discovers during his stay. The film then focuses on his reaction to that, and how those around him respond in turn.
The plot is vaguely based on the life of a real person, but was poorly received by some critics for mixing a historical character with a lot of fiction. This was apparently because the main female character became ill during filming, and so the plot had to be radically altered.
I personally think the result is a sensual masterpiece in creating the powerful and conflicting emotions you would have had if you had been on the Gold Coast in 1836 – the elegance of the early 19th Century costumes contrasting with the utter depravity of many of those living on the fort; the beauty of West Africa's landscape and nature against the spectre of disease that killed so many who dared to visit; and of course the conflict between the ideals of Christianity and the Enlightenment against the base exploitation of slavery.
One of the most visually spectacular and haunting films I have ever seen. I have only given 9 stars because I thought Wulff's descent into madness was over-exaggerated. He could have become very withdrawn instead, which I think would have been more realistic.
All in all, a much needed film to bring home to today's audience an experience of one of the darker sides of Denmark's past.
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