La Ultima Cena wasa film that was in general a historically accurate portrayal of the usage ofslave labor in Cuba. The film follows the story of Count de Casa Boya, theowner of a sugar mill and it examines the dynamics between the many differentmembers that compose it. The Count is conflicted because while he feels thatthe slaves’ job in life is to work, he dislikes the beatings they endure fromthe cruel overseer Manuel. His confliction arises from him refusing tointercede on the slaves’ behalf because this would slow production of hissugar.
To calm his conscience the Count decides to host a feast for12 slaves, comparing it to Jesus’ last meal with his Apostles. He has theoverseer select men from different African backgrounds and he washes and kissestheir feet before the meal. While he hopes this meal will cause the slaves tobe content with their lot, instead it backfires. The 12 selected slaves feel asense of superiority to the others and while many of them felt loyalty towards theCount, through a series of miscommunications instead of pacifying the slaves,they revolt and burn the mill. The Count orders the 12 men who dined with himto be punished for this to be made example of. In the end of the film all butone has their head placed upon a stake.
Religion is akey thematic element and throughout the film it attempts to show how theEuropean religion translates into slave society and a main way this was shownthrough the film was the slaves’ distrust of the priest. While John Mraz’sarticle states that the film was an overall accurate portrayal of the eventsthey elaborated certain historical elements but nothing was extremelyinaccurate or out of context. The film also did a very good job of communicatingthe absence of law on the Cuban sugar plantations. The execution of the 12slaves was not prevented or even argued by anyone nor were their beatingsobjected to. Also, the underlying fear of black rebellions that was referencedthroughout the film, such as the large one that occurred in Haiti was anaccurate fear during the time.
The film also relates well to the article by KirstenSchultz. This article discusses how the constitution of Brazil ultimatelydecided against awarding citizenship to slaves. While they considered awardingit many felt that the African slaves should not be given it ultimately due tothe color of there skin. This is seen since they were willing to grant it tothe libertos creoles but not the African libertos. In the film the main slavecharacter Sebastian tells a story of Truth and Lies. In short the idea was thatwhat the people believed as the truth was really a lie; as the Braziliansbelief for the rights of citizenship towards slaves was based on what thebelieved was truth but was really know more than a falsehood they used tomaintain their position.
This film was overall an accurate portrayal of the relationson sugar plantations in Cuba during the 1790’s. It showed how religion, biasesand desire for production and profit influenced the treatment of slaves andstructure of the society during the period.