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The Underground Railroad, a new series on Amazon Prime, is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead.

Barry Jenkins’ new masterpiece: The Underground Railroad



The Underground Railroad, a new series on Amazon Prime, is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead. 

It's directed by Barry Jenkins, who also directed the 2016 Best Picture winner Moonlight and the follow up, If Beale Street Could Talk. 

The show is one of the most gripping, powerful and visceral series out this year, and it’s an opportunity to explore what prestige television looks like in 2021, and how it can help us confront our history and grapple with the present.

 

Guest: Award-winning writer, filmmaker and contributor to The Saturday Paper, Santilla Chingaipe

 

Show Transcript

[Theme Music Starts]

OSMAN:

Hey there, I'm Osman Faruqi and welcome to The Culture, a weekly show from Schwartz Media where we take a deep dive into the latest in the world of music, streaming, TV, film and everything in arts and entertainment. For the past couple of months, I’ve been pretty transfixed by a new show. It’s called The Underground Railroad, and it’s written, produced and directed by someone who I think is one of the most important filmmakers around. It’s been flying pretty under the radar, particularly here in Australia, so I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about it - why I’m hooked and why I think it’s a good opportunity to explore what exactly prestige television looks like in 2021, and how it can be both gripping and help us confront our history and grapple with our present. So joining me this week on The Culture to chat about the series is award-winning writer, filmmaker and contributor to The Saturday Paper, Santilla Chingaipe. Santi, thank you so much for coming on the show. 

[Theme Music Ends]

SANTILLA:

Pleasure Os. 

OSMAN:

So The Underground Railroad is a new series on Amazon Prime. It's based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead. It's directed by the incredible Barry Jenkins, who directed the 2016 film Moonlight, won The Best Picture and the follow up, If Beale Street Could Talk. There's a lot to explore in terms of the significance and importance of the show and the people who are involved in it. But maybe we should start just by walking through what it's actually about.

SANTILLA:

I guess the way Amazon is selling it, they're selling it as a limited series that essentially takes Colson Whitehead's book and explores the story of Cora, who is an enslaved woman on a plantation in Georgia.

Archival Tape -- The Underground Railroad - unidentified character 1

“You came all this way on the railroad?”

Archival Tape -- The Underground Railroad - unidentified character 2

“Yeah. I left behind all those peoples.”

SANTILLA:

She's an orphan. You know, her mother runs off when she's really, really young and is never captured. And so Cora sort of grows up being quite angry about the fact that her mother left her and never came back for her.

Archival Tape -- The Underground Railroad - unidentified character 1

“Where do they go - the ones that run away and never return.”

SANTILLA:

And there's another enslaved young man on this plantation whose name’s Caesar, and Caesar is slightly more literate, um, because obviously, historically, slaves weren't taught to read or write. And somehow Caesar is literate and he loves to read and he imagines a better life. He sort of thinks that the conditions on the plantation that they're on aren't great. And so he feels that because Cora’s mom was never captured, she might be a good luck charm and so he tries to convince Cora to leave with him because he's decided that he wants to run away.

Archival Tape --The Underground Railroad - Caesar

“There is nothing here but suffering. Pain and suffering. It is time to go.”

SANTILLA:

And what Colson Whitehead does is that he takes the metaphorical underground railroad. So historically, the underground railroad was sort of like a network of people, safe houses and secret routes that slaves would use to run away. And he sort of takes that idea and turns it into a literal underground railroad that enables, with the help of abolitionists, white abolitionists, to sort of aid the passage of these slaves. You've got another character called Ridgeway, played by Joel Edgerton, in what I think is probably the best performance of his career. Um, and he plays a slave catcher and he never got to catch Cora's mom, and so he is sort of almost obsessed with catching her.

Archival Tape -- The Underground Railroad - Ridgeway

“The savagery a man is capable of.. when he believes his cause to be just “

SANTILLA: 

So that's kind of the story in a nutshell. So it essentially is ‘does Cora get caught?’

Archival Tape -- The Underground Railroad - Cora

“Man lost my momma, then me. Ain't no way he ever giving up on finding me.”

SANTILLA:

And it's more than just a film about slavery. I mean, there's so many...because it is such an emotionally, it's such a character driven story. There were parts about it that I sort of felt were more about how you find yourself within a system that forces you to lose who you are. So in many ways, I felt like Cora works her way to figuring out who she is. But then there's also a bigger theme around relationships with parents and parenting and sort of her reconciling the fact that her mother left her when she was a child and she hadn't really dealt with that sort of stuff. And so um there's layers to it. I mean, it's Barry Jenkins and it's Colson Whitehead. So it's not it's not just a slave series. 

OSMAN:

Totally. No. I mean, I think that's a really important thing to point out, because I read Colson Whitehead’s book. I thought it was phenomenal. It was incredible. And the idea of someone as accomplished as Barry Jenkins adapting this for the screen with a pretty significant budget, it seems like from Amazon, was was really exciting, and...like, I'm about halfway through the series right now, and I think it's incredibly compelling and I will absolutely finish it, but I also find it quite difficult to watch at times. And I'm not saying that as any kind of criticism. I just think that, like, what is being shown is the brutal, brutal reality of the conditions of slavery in America. And I think it's worth sort of unpacking that for a second, cause I think we know slavery is bad. We know that slaves were not treated well. But I remember a few years ago I went to a plantation in Louisiana, the Whitney plantation, which is the only plantation in Louisiana that is actually a museum...

SANTILLA:

...People have weddings on plantations. It's so crazy.

OSMAN:

….It's, it's bizarre. Most plantations in the south like event places where people have graduations and weddings. The Whitney plantation is used as a museum to basically highlight exactly how slavery was manifested in that region, you know, in the seventeen, eighteen hundreds. You know, it's one thing to say that slaves are the property of people. It's another thing to be confronted with mass graves because, ah you know, slave owners decided that they didn't want women in this particular season, as they called them. And so they just killed all the babies who are women seeing all that stuff. It's still, I think we're still in a process of really coming to terms - when I say we, I mean non-black people - with the reality of this. And I think in terms of its representation on screen, I don't think I've seen anything quite as visceral as The Underground Railroad in its treatment of this stuff, its depiction of this stuff. I think part of that is obviously the story, but part of that is also the way that Jenkins has directed this. Can you talk to me about some of the choices that he's made in terms of how scenes are framed, what characters are shown, even the depictions of some of the particularly graphic violence. How do you think that contributes to that sense? 

SANTILLA:

Yeah. Oh, gosh. I mean, I just love what you said because, I mean, there's a lot there and I really want to get into it. But I will answer your first question. Um. First of all, I'm like a Barry Jenkins stan, because you know who isn't..

OSMAN:

Who isn’t?

SANTILLA:

There’s some people...

OSMAN:

La La Land fans, probably

SANTILLA:

Probably, probably. But he...you know, his signature’s all over this. You know, he is a person that loves silence. I mean, a lot of his work is really in the quietness of human moments and being given, I don't know, I think it's something like 15 hours or something that the whole series ends up being, being given that space he really flexes that muscle. I think there's one particular episode where most there's this barely any dialogue. And it's incredibly powerful. And as someone that loves cinema, it's like having the big screen on the small screen, because when you're watching television and again, to some people, this might not be the obvious thing. But one of the things that I find very frustrating about watching television is that it's very much cut for television. So you can have a scene where someone's having dialogue and, you know, you get a mid, you get a wide, you get an establishing shot. And, uh, and it's a constant cutting between these sorts of frames. And that can really for me anyway, it sort of like takes me out of the story because I'm sort of I'm very editorially aware that this is what's going on. But he doesn't do that. He uses very much cinematic devices when he's filming because he wants you to sit with these characters and he allows them to move in and out of the frame quite beautifully, like the camera... I mean, James Laxton, his long time collaborator, they went to film school together, their relationship and how they understand the camera, how they understand portraiture, it is so poetic that when that camera is moving and it is picking up all of the details that you wouldn't necessarily be thinking about...adds to those layers, so even when you're not seeing violence, you can feel it, you know.

OSMAN:

Mmm. Mmm.

SANTILLA:

And it's also with the sound design as well, because there's scenes where there's the episode in Kentucky, I don't know if you've seen that one, and you can hear the crunch of just the aftermath of the land being burned and these eerie feeling of, you know, the slaves that would have been burnt and killed during that time, but also the fact that they filmed this series in the places where these things actually happened. So while the series is quite fictionalised, you are having these layers that are being added to the storytelling that when you're watching it, as you say, it really is very visceral, like it pulls you in emotionally in a way where you really feel what the characters are going through, and he is just nothing short of just brilliant in how he's able to sort of bring in all of those elements cinematically to tell you the story, but also tell a really good thriller because, because you can have those bits. But without a very strong narrative arc, it's very difficult to keep the audience with you. And he's found a way to marry those really quite well.

OSMAN:

I think what is a further testament to that is how effortless it does feel like you watch this and all of the things you're saying just feel like that's the natural way to do things. But obviously, there is no natural way to do things. Every single thing is a deliberate choice. When the camera lingers on a face for 5 to 10 seconds after, you know, that scene would have normally finished in the TV show, as you say, is a very filmic sort of thing to do. And it's so deliberately done. But it doesn't feel like a choice when you're watching it. It's just like if, of course, if you're going to tell this kind of story, this is how you would construct it. But one thing in the first episode that I found...so gripping and terrifying and horrifying, and I've never actually seen anything like this before in TV or cinema, there's a really graphic scene of a character being burned alive in the first episode. And you see it and it's very confronting. And you think the scene is done, you think that character is dead, and then you get a shot, which is from the point of view of that character as their eyes are flickering, as flames are covering them, as they are surveying. And again, you think, oh, that's obvious, well Jenkins is trying to just put us in their experience, but it's not obvious. It's not been done before. And it- that is just one you know, one other piece that helps you understand so quickly the tension, the horror, the fear that all of the characters that we are on this journey with are experiencing.

SANTILLA:

But he's also bringing it into the contemporary, right? So he's not letting us off as old as the audience members because as you said, I mean, for a lot of people, people might think that these histories are so long ago. But the point about retelling these stories is...and this is what he does, he's, he's bearing witness because it's about an act of remembering, you know, much like, um, you know, we don't want to forget about the horrors of the Holocaust, we shouldn't forget the horrors of slavery and how that completely changed the global order. And so, you know these things, yes, are gut wrenching and painful to watch. And that scene in particular, I mean, we've had so many, uh, cinematic depictions of violence on black bodies for a particular gaze, that it's re-traumatising the black audiences that are being forced to watch and have no say in what's being made, and it's all for the entertainment of white audiences...I just and, you know, there were other moments in the film when he does that sort of stuff. And I just sort of thought, gosh, he is finding a way of not letting the audience off the hook to sort of think that this is just situated in a historical context, that these histories are very much still taking place today, um, and forcing us to really, really, really think about the implications of, of racism in the contemporary sense. And then the soundtrack, man... 

OSMAN:

Yeah. Nicholas Britell's composition is extraordinary

SANTILLA:

Extraordinary, extraordinary. But then also with some of the song choices, there was the, there was, there’s an episode that ends...I don't want to ruin it, but it's, uh, Ridgway...he does something quite bad and you just hear the bass drop and it's like a chopped and screwed version of Kendrick Lamar's Money Trees.

Archival Tape -- Kendrick Lamar - Money Trees

“Everyone gon respect the shooter, but the one in front of the gun lives forever.

The one, in front of the gun, forever…”

SANTILLA:

And I was like, damn, like I was like, seriously, like I was like, Barry, what? Like, like, you know, what are you watching something, and you're thinking, shit, shit, shit, OK, I'm in this historical time and place, and then he brings you in with, with, with those sorts of choices....You just have to take a moment, like you just...

OSMAN:

I mean, there's a couple right? There’s Childish Gambino’s This Is America. And I think artists like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino are making art about their experiences now. And so using that and linking it back, it seems like such a...almost like Barry Jenkins is shouting and saying, ‘I'm making this and I'm using it to remind you that shit isn't that different to what was back then’?

SANTILLA:

Pretty much. Pretty much. And you talked about how it looks effortless and the thing about things that look effortless always, always are the things that, um, people put in so much work. And you can see every ounce of his blood, sweat and tears in that series

OSMAN:

There's one more bit of the kind of directorial stylistic stuff I want to touch with you before we go into some more thematic stuff. You mentioned Jenkins' long time collaborator, James Lexton, the way that Jenkins and Lexton in particular have kind of redefined the filming of black bodies and black skin... 

SANTILLA:

Yeah, and it's not just it's not just black skin, it’s just darker skin tones in general, because historically film had an inherent bias and it's essentially, um, favoured white skin. 

OSMAN:

 ...When you say film, you mean the actual film stock

SANTILLA:

...The actual film and the materials that we used in film. I think there was something called a Shirley card that was traditionally used by Kodak that if you film something and it was being processed, the Shirley card was essentially a white woman and that was the bar that every, that was the film was sort of calibrated. And so for a long time, cinema, the tools to make cinema, apart from the fact that the institution itself has historically excluded non-white and female practitioners, the tools themselves have also been quite exclusive. And so how skin tones, darker skin tones have shown up on film historically have never really allowed us to really see people, because in darker skin tones there is so much texture that, that gets lost with some of those old school cameras because of how the light was entering, entering the cameras, but because of the change in technology and the use of digital technology, particularly because I think... They've been able to sort of master how, how to, how to take portraits of dark skinned people, and what that does is that it picks up the detail in faces in a way that really allows you to sit with these characters, because you really see them. And what Jenkins wants you to do is that, one, he wants to recenter the gaze because he wants you to see these people for who they were, and the lives that they lived, not for what you think that they were, victims in a system. They weren't just victims. They were humans that, in some ways, were flawed in the context of that system, but also felt emotions, they felt joy and you kind of want to see that expressed on a face in the details, and the fact that the camera picks it up quite well, added the layers that make the, the series very rich in, in its storytelling, because you get to feel that you get to feel the moments when Cora experiences joy even even if momentarily. Again, that's credit to the advances in technology, but also the fact that James Laxton specifically has found a way of framing and capturing, uh, black skin on film.

OSMAN:

We’re going to take a quick break, and come back right after this.

[ ADVERTISEMENT ]

OSMAN:

I think the show The Underground Railroad, for all the reasons you're describing, is so distinctive and so fresh and so unique. But it also, you know, reminds me immediately of a show like Roots, um, which was, you know, the first big budget mass, really, really popular show out of the United States that, that captured the experience of a certain cohort of slaves. It was recently kind of re-adapted. They sort of did a remake of it. Can you tell me a bit about Roots, the impact that it had and maybe your own experience with it?

SANTILLA:

Roots is like one of those series that if you are a black person at some point in your life, someone makes a reference to it. And, so for anyone that hasn't seen it, which I find very strange. Um, but it also shows your age, because if you grew up in the 70s, 80s, chances are you probably watched Roots or you probably watched one episode. But it was a limited, uh, drama series, as you say. It was based on a book as well. It was based on Alex Haley's book called Roots. He was an African-American writer. And it essentially charted the story of his ancestor, um, Kunta Kinte from The Gambia.

Archival Tape -- Roots - unidentified character 1

“I want to hear you say your name. Your name is Toby. What’s your name?”

Archival Tape -- Roots - Kunta Kinte

(heavy breathing) “...Kunta…” (heavy breathing)

(whip crack)...

SANTILLA:

And you know how he got to the US and became a slave and then it sort of moved forward in time as well. So it's sort of, um...essentially explored the legacy of slavery, and I think it was the first time that American audiences were being shown these histories in that way, because I think prior to that, most slave films didn't really - I mean there was Gone with the Wind, but this really centred the black experience because you had predominantly black actors in the show. Um, it was based on Alex Haley's book. He was African-American, the cinematographer for the time revolutionary. He was an African-American cinematographer. In many ways, it was like the first of its kind to sort of explore these histories and allow Americans to experience the horrors of that period of history. It was aired free-to-air and people had access to it. It was shown here in Australia as well. And I think it was something like 85 percent of Americans watched it, that was the statistic. it was so widely seen.

OSMAN:

Wow. Wow.

SANTILLA:

It's gone on to inform, um, so much of, and shape so much of popular culture and people's understanding of slavery.

OSMAN:

I mean the Kendrick song, King Kunta, is to...

SANTILLA:

 ...a reference of it.

Archival Tape -- Kendrick Lamar - King Kunta

“Bitch where were you when I was walkin’?
Now I run a game, got the whole world talking (King Kunta)
Everybody wanna cut the legs off him (King Kunta)
Black man takin’ no losses…”

SANTILLA:

Dave Chappelle made skits about Kunta - I mean, if you, if you're a black person and you were sort of like, you know, fresh in the diaspora from the continent, like the chances of someone called you Kunta Kinte, you know.

OSMAN:

Yeah, right...

SANTILLA:

So you, it's a bit of a joke. But you try to sort of separate yourself or differentiate yourself from being straight out of the continent. And so it it really really helped shape how people thought about slavery and also sort of popularises genre of slave films.

OSMAN:

So tell me more about that. What are some of the, um, you know, kind of between Roots and where we are now The Underground Railroad? What have we seen and, and what do you think is the good and the bad of those attempts? 

SANTILLA:

Steven Spielberg, Glory, um, Quentin Tarantino has explored it in Django Unchained

OSMAN:

Steve McQueen

SANTILLA:

Steve McQueen, Steve McQueen, black British filmmaker, he directed, uh, produced, co-wrote 12 Years a Slave, gave us Lupita Nyong'o. And that film in many ways sort of started to recalibrate how slave, you know, slaves were being depicted because they had gone from being seen as victims, whose bodies were, uh, being traumatised to, um, people that did resist and and humans and and that not all of them were necessarily heroes, you know, in a way, and he added that nuance that previous depictions hadn't quite done and in many ways had made it very difficult for particularly black audiences to go and see, because no one wants to sort of like pay money to go and see this violence when, you know, it's pretty much everywhere. 

OSMAN:

So watching the Underground Railroad as an Australian, it was very hard to not immediately think, you know, we’re another country that has struggled and continues to struggle with acknowledging the reality of our own racial history in the violence inflicted upon black people, Indigenous people in this country. There's been some films recently, I think, of Warwick Thornton's Sweet Country or Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale that, that are interrogating much more viscerally the brutal reality of colonisation in Australia and the genocide that followed. But there's nothing equivalent to Roots or The Underground Railroad, and obviously Australia is a much smaller country than America. We don't have huge streaming companies ploughing tens of millions of dollars into productions, but it did, it did feel stark...am I missing something, do you think there is a gap here in Australia?

SANTILLA:

I think in Australia, we like to think that we are removed from these histories and that these histories happened elsewhere and they don't really happen here. But also, to me, it speaks to a sense that we don't really understand our own histories very well. And in many ways, a lack of imagination. I will say though, some of the best filmmaking in this country is being done by First Nations filmmakers. The boundaries of storytelling are being pushed in a way that is exciting and not just from a historical perspective, but so much it's being also depicted in the contemporary sense. There's a lot of work, even on television, that is exploring what it is to be Indigenous in the 21st century in Australia, in all of its complexities, flaws and nuances. And I love that. But I just sort of think that in terms of how we tell our histories, um, we're not very good at it. Part of it is cultural. Part of it is because of our historical legacies. I think what people don't quite understand is that, the White Australia policy had a very big impact on, on us culturally in terms of the stories that were recorded, who recorded them and why they were recorded and who got erased from those stories. And so for a good 70 years, you've got a centring of certain narratives and the exclusion of other narratives. And so it's only now that people are starting to rediscover these other stories that we're beginning to sort of, um, think about our histories in a different way, so we have been slow to it. I hope that things will start to change, but I definitely think that if, if there's anything that's exciting about Australian filmmaking and cinema right now, it is being made by Indigenous creatives. I think some of the best stuff is being made, um, across the board. I mean, whether it's drama series that, that, that, that centre Indigenous filmmakers to feature films and even the films that are getting international recognition are being made by Indigenous filmmakers, so they are clearly getting something right. And the question for me is always what are other filmmakers, you know, non-Indigenous filmmakers not getting right? Like, what is being missed?

OSMAN:

We’re going to take another quick break, and be back in a moment.

[ ADVERTISEMENT ]

OSMAN:

Santi, there's just one more thing that I wanted to talk about in the context of this discussion about The Underground Railroad. When you were talking about Roots, you talked about how when it came out 85% of Americans had watched that show. And the media landscape then was so different to what it is now. You know, there were way fewer channels. And, you know, in an Australian context, that was like five channels that most people watched. And when there was a big show on them, everyone watched them. And sort of the culture was united. The culture was united around that. Now things are so fragmented, like most people do not have multiple streaming platforms. I'm a weirdo who is paid to talk about this stuff. So I subscribe to basically everything. But that has an impact, doesn't it? In terms of what stories actually resonate and break through into the culture. And I mean, part of the reason I wanted to talk about this show is because I think a lot of people are sleeping on it. And I wonder how you think the distribution model at the moment, the fact that it's on Amazon Prime, the way that it was released, kind of all in one go, how do you think that's impacted its resonance or to be honest, its lack of resonance right now? 

SANTILLA:

I mean, critics are raving about it, right, but when it comes because I've had friends and I'm told most if they like, uh...yeah, yeah, I'll get to it. I'm like, no, get to like, yeah...but I have to because they feel like they psychologically have to be in a certain headspace. And this is friends from across different racial backgrounds. So it's not even just black friends, cause my black friends are tired, they're like ‘I...I don't know’. But I think part of the tragedy of this series not having that sort of resonance that you talk about...is...it's that context that we touched on before, the fact that there have been so many attempts at making these slave films and some of them have been really, really bad and people are just traumatised. And the idea of sitting through close to 15 hours of a genre that they have assumptions about, doesn't perhaps sit very well with people. We're also coming off the back of a global Black Lives Matter movement, that was really centering a lot of this violence, back to back to back. That also has an impact on how audiences come to this, but then you've also got the streaming model. And yeah, it's on Amazon Prime. You have to pay for the subscription. It's not like Roots, which was free to air, which is a bit of a tragedy because, I almost wonder with these sorts of films, the capitalist model aside of like trying to make a profit and all this sort of stuff, I wonder if there's a way that these streaming platforms can sort of figure out a way of distributing them, like, freely. 

OSMAN:

I mean it's not like Amazon is struggling to make a profit.

SANTILLA:

Yeah, I agree, because I think Netflix did something similar with When They See Us, when Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us came out, I think they made it free to watch via YouTube for a period of time. So it's not a model that hasn't been tried before. So I, I hope that Amazon make this more accessible in the months to come because there will be people, particularly in other parts of the world where, you know, a subscription here, like a twenty seven dollars subscription to Amazon might not be a big thing in a Western context, but in the developing country context, that is totally a lot of money. And so you would like to see these stories being made accessible because not only does it encourage other filmmakers to think about how they tell stories within their own communities differently, which I think would be a wonderful by-product of it...you know, you talked about how in Australia we've got a bit of a dearth of telling these sorts of stories, you know, filmmakers having access to this or people that want to tell these stories, having access to this, it might inspire them. It might get them to think about these stories differently. You might go ‘you know what? They're these stories in my community that I've been thinking about for a while, and this might be a way for me to tackle it without, um…’

OSMAN:

Yeah, you can't be inspired by Barry Jenkins making an incredible TV show, if you can't watch or haven't watched the show.

SANTILLA:

That’s it. It is just such a beautiful work of art, but also grappling with some...so it's not just beautiful, because sometimes you can get caught up in the cinematography and the series that Lena Waithe produced, Them, is one of those series that is, you know, the cinematography is just pretty stunning and pretty flawless. But when it comes to the actual guts of the story, it leaves much to be desired. But with The Underground Railroad, you're really getting all of the things coming together very beautifully to tell an incredible story that is based on a remarkable book, and should be seen by everyone. Um, and I think part of the problem I mean, one of the criticisms I had of the series was that it was too focus on the American gaze and the American experience when we know that slavery, particularly plantation slavery, did not just happen in the US and, like I said, it reshaped the global order in many ways, including what is shaping how this country was formed in many ways. And so that exploration would have been really useful because it would have made audiences outside of America feel a sense of responsibility to these stories. But also it would have, in the context of how Amazon is selling it, because they're selling it as a global series, I've seen billboards here in Melbourne advertising the series, it would have spoken in a more universal way to people. And if they're going to be doing these big releases, I think that there has to be some consideration into the audience being not just in America. And that was what Roots did, I felt, quite well, in that it did explore to some extent, um, the global nature of the transatlantic slave trade and how this caused so much fracture across various continents. And because it was a television series, um, they were I felt like there was a bit of scope to kind of explore that. Um, but, you know, you can't do everything. And I'm not trying to, you know, but...

OSMAN:

Yeah. Um, no, I can't, I can't echo what you said enough. I mean, I think if you have access to an Amazon Prime account or you have the ability to pay for one, it's worth it for the series. 

SANTILLA:

I think so. I think, I think my advice would be take it slow, just like Barry Jenkins’ camera. You know, it's slow. It requires patience. But, you know, take time off, watch an episode, pause, go for a walk, you know, sage the room, whatever you need to do, then come back to it. You don't need to rush with it, that's what's really beautiful about it. It's not like a, uh, a high stakes, uh, crime thriller that is really edge of your seat that you kind of want to binge, and it's not like that at all. Um, so you can take a time with it, and then see how you feel about it and, and, and the sorts of questions that are coming up, because I think that's a beautiful thing. When art makes you feel uncomfortable, it's doing something. Um, and this series is not short of moments that make you feel uncomfortable, but also that just fill you with joy and remind you that at the core of human beings, we are resilient, but also that despite the fact that these things happened, we're also the benefactors of so much of this trauma and the experiences of these people, so it's, it's, it's yeah, I'd highly recommend probably one of the best series that's come out in a very, very long time. 

OSMAN:

Santi, thanks so much for joining me on The Culture today.

SANTILLA:

It's been such a pleasure.

[Theme Music Starts]

OSMAN:

Thanks for listening to the show, The Culture will be back in your feeds next week with a very special episode on the greatest film franchise of all time, The Fast and the Furious. The ninth movie in the series is out now and I’m incredibly excited to talk about.. So make sure to follow us in your podcast feed to get it as soon as it lands. 

In the meantime, you can follow us on Instagram @theculture.pod. 

 The Culture is a weekly show from Schwartz Media.

It's produced by Bez Zewdie and Atticus Bastow, Our editor-in-chief is Erik Jensen, and our theme music is by Hermitude.

I’m Osman Faruqi, see ya next week.

[Theme Music Ends]

 

Host

Osman Faruqi is a journalist and the editor of 7am, Schwartz Media’s daily news podcast.

Guest

Santilla Chingaipe is a journalist and documentary filmmaker.