La Ultima Cena

       Throughout the history of slavery; social change has often led to revolts and uprisings that ended  abruptly with violent conflict. This week the assigned readings, as well as the movie, consisted with reports of slave uprisings in Latin American countries. The film “La Ultima Cena”, directed by  Tomás Gutiérrez Alea was released in 1976, and told the story of a sugar plantation which is run by a very pious plantation owner. The storyline of the movie revolved around the plantation owners decision to re-enact the last super of Jesus and his 12 apostles with his slaves. Once the dinner begins it becomes apparent that the owner wishes to convey the importance of Christianity to his slaves. He tells of biblical stories intended to enlighten his slaves, but only seems to make them question their posistion as slaves in a christian world. The readings; John Mraz, “Recasting Cuban Slavery: The Other Francisco and The Last Supper.” and Kristen Schultz, “Slavery Race and Citizenship.” were insightful as well and helped paint an accurate understanding of the many questions that were still present after viewing the movie.
       One important thing to keep in mind is the extremely crude times that those in slavery constantly faced. Writer John Mraz points out the many ways slaves coped with their dilemma which included running away, rebellion, and in some cases passive resistance efforts such as suicide and abortion. When viewing the film “La Ultima Cena” with this foreknowledge is it easy to see why the slaves were not swayed by their master’s attempts to appease them with Christianity. The slaves also seem to be from different origins altogether, with many different attitudes and actions towards their master as well as each other. One aspect to be appreciated when viewing the film while also keeping in mind the writings of Mraz; is the real conflict between religious forces, and the rising demand for the commodities slave labor produced. In “La Ultima Cena” the slaves eventually revolt because of the broken promise that they could have “Good Friday” off, so that they may worship the lord.

       The other reading gave a detailed account of the issues the Brazilian constitutionalists faced when attempting to obtain sovereignty as an independent nation. A major issue was how the new government would appropriate citizenship status to its people in a very slave driven society. This shows the struggles that oppressed slaves faced when attempting to rebel, as the did in “La Ultima Cena”. One can assume that lack of education as well as organization, was a major reason many slave revolts were forcefully ended. Slaves had no power, and were kept impoverished. As far as conflict between revolting slaves and armed militias ,often hired by the revolting plantation’s owner, slaves were at a heavy disadvantage. Overall, it can be assumed that the film “La Ultima Cena” is a mostly historically accurate film that depicted numerous aspects of slavery that should never be forgotten. It offers a general example of how slave revolts were sadly nearly always bloody events that shaped our past, and defined us as a society.