La Ultima Cena

 After watching La Ultima Cena, a typical topic to discuss would be the various ways the priest and Count deflected Christianity and God onto the slaves.  I on the other hand would like to chat about a matter that shocked me.  I have never seen (or was aware) of a master to be so humble to his slaves, even if it was through religious meaning.  Yes, we have seen the Jesuits be humble to the natives in The Mission but this is a different matter.  The Count had full power and legislation over his slaves as the Jesuits did not.

At the last supper, the Count made rules to benefit the slaves such as no work on Good Friday.  To the overseer of the slaves this was preposterous and offensive.  While reading the Alejandro de la Fuente article, Slaves and the Creation of Legal Rights in Cuba: Coartacion and Papel, I saw how the situation in La Ultima Cena mimicked that of judges and slave owners in Cuba.  The Count related to the judges who often showed kindness to the slaves as the overseer of the slaves related to the slave masters in the article with strict objections to the judge’s rulings.  For the first time there were people fighting for slaves to have rights in government and was a step in the right direction for “the evolution of the law” (Fuente 662). 

Of course slave owners had fears just as the overseer in La Ultima Cena did from the beginning when he said that there would be too many slaves on the sugar plantation if more came in to work.  Fuente said that slave owners had a “fear of losing control over slaves in general” which fueled their objections to the law evolution (Fuente 668).

Evolution of the law was interesting to read about in the Slavery, Race, and Citizenship in the Empire of Brazil: Debates in the Constituent Assembly by Kirsten Schultz as well.  This article contains excerpts of Brazilians standing up for the rights of slaves in Brazil.  In the discussion of slaves being considered citizens, Sr. Carneiro de Cunha says, “I do not know why those [slaves] born in our territory will be at an advantage over those African-born at this point, after being almost always enslaved, as the African has no one who protects him, from the time he arrives he is always wretched…It does not seem just to me that the less fortunate are offered less assistance…” (Schultz 32).  Sr. Carneiro de Cunha’s objections make it obvious that common citizens often did stand up for slaves’ rights and citizenship, just as the Count did.

Unfortunately, the ending of La Ultima Cena ended on a sour note with the slaves rebelling because they did not get the benefits that the Count promised, but this movie highlighted a common conflict of interests.  Government officials and slave owners often did not see eye to eye.  Views were not uniform and thus resulting in outrage.  Thankfully in this modern age all rights are restored, but why did it take so long?  How could some men have such a big bark over others?  …questions that can never be answered.