Director : Imoh Umoren
Producer(s): Imoh Umoren, Wale Macaulay and Ahmed Kayode
Written By: Bisi Jamgbadi
Starring :William Benson, Kelechi Udegbe, Martha Ehinome Orhiere, Tubosun Ayedun, Sunday Afolabi, Mary Kowo, Phillip Jarman, Stanley Matthews, Obiora Maduegbuna, and Lolo Eremie.
Genre : Drama
Release Date : October 25 , 2019 (Nigeria)
Awesome-O-Metre : 4.8/10
Revue of THE HERBERT MACAULAY AFFAIR
The Herbert Macaulay Affair is a historical period piece set in 1892 and is about Herbert Macaulay who has just returned from his study in England to take up a civil service job as a surveyor in the Lagos Colony of what is now Nigeria. At his job he is exposed to a lot of racism and belittling of the locals by the colonial masters and this angers him sufficiently to lead a rebellion against the colonialists.
Herbert Macaulay is one of Nigeria’s most underrated nationalists and not enough is said about him in our history books, so The Herbert Macaulay Affair is such a timely film to bring his impact on our nationhood to our awareness. However, I must say that the adaptation of his life to the film could have been much better because the film didn’t properly convey his reasons for revolting. His backstory wasn’t well developed so it was hard for us to connect with his disdain for the colonialists. This poor adaptation reflected in the film ending without showing Herbert Macaulay’s (in my opinion) greatest achievement which was just mentioned via an expository text at the end of the film. It was disappointing that the film ended where it should have started.
Another issue I had with the Herbert Macaulay Affair is the score which was sometimes so loud that we were unable to hear the voices of the actors. In fact, the words in the first twelve minutes of the film were drowned out by the sound of the score. Also, the score was sometimes so inappropriate and ill-timed for a scene, that it sounded like the music from another film was being played over it. I understand that the idea was for the score to be period accurate, but I think the composers over-did it.
The lighting of the film also left much to be desired. Again, it seemed that the producers intended to set the tone of the film with the lighting, but they went over the top. There are so many scenes that would have had a greater impact only if we could see the actors and not just their silhouettes. However, the color grading and scheme were immaculate and perfect for the film.
I don’t see any Nollywood film beating the costuming and make up of The Herbert Macaulay Affair. The costumes were well researched and accurate, that audiences will feel it was actually shot in the 1800’s. Another perfection in the film is the location which looked something out of a pre-colonial photograph. Also, the framing of the shots were beautiful that it reminded me of a Wes Anderson job but the transition between scenes is laborious.
However, I must add that the producers could have paid more attention to detail and remove some of the items on the location that made us know the film was shot in the Nigerian Railway Compound.
Despite the less than desirable adaptation, the actors did well portraying their characters and of special note is Willie Benson who is convincing as the titular character…although his moustache was suspect. It was also nice to see Herbert Macaulay’s own son in the film, and I think he put in a good shift.
Even though the score of the film left much to be desired with its appositeness, the soundtrack, Nobody’s Fool by Chidinma is amazing and gave me chills. I absolutely love it. You can see the video below.
The Herbert Macaulay Affair is ambitious and politically relevant but to be honest, the film is a hit or miss with audiences depending on your perspective. When you get to see the film, do let me know what you think by leaving a line in the comment section below or holla on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Have an awesome week!