Concerning Violence, a new documentary by Swedish director Göran Olsson, who gave us the excellent The Black Power Mixtape, takes us back to the era of Frantz Fanon, the post–World War II moment that saw an explosion of national independence movements in Africa and Asia. Fanon was a Martinique-born black psychiatrist who, in a nutshell, thought that the mental health of oppressed Africans would improve if they returned the violence their white oppressors inflicted on them.
Fanon died young. But his books, one of which, The Wretched of the Earth, looms in the background of the documentary (its name is taken from the book's first chapter), inspired a generation of African intellectuals and revolutionaries. The whole world has Che Guevara; black Africa has Frantz Fanon.
The film has an introduction by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the leading figures of postcolonial theory, and is narrated by the black American rapper/singer Lauryn Hill. A part of the documentary is a mess (too many wars, too many voices, too many ideas), and a part of it is magical (the jungles, the rebels, the cause). As for Hill, she has a voice that expresses all of her strengths and weaknesses, her beauty and her outrage. Few are as bold and as vulnerable as her.