The acclaimed filmmaker Steve McQueen is back with another masterpiece, but this time he’s debuting on a different medium!
After winning an Oscar for Best Picture (the first black American to ever win an Oscar in this category) and the renowned Turner Prize for visual art, the “12 Years a Slave” director has taken the TV medium to demonstrate his talents and skills in the form of “Small Axe.”
Small Axe Amazon Prime is a British anthology of five different films, based on the real-life experiences of people in the West Indian Community, or those belonging to Caribbean ancestry and residing in London during early 1960s till late 1980s.
The series premiered on BBC One on November 2020 in the United Kingdom and it’s also streaming on Amazon Prime Video on 20th November 2020.
While it advertises as a TV series- and that’s how BBC is broadcasting it across countries, it’s best to regard Small Axe as five full-fledged feature-length movies, with a new one premiering every Friday.
Each movie features an entirely different story with entirely different characters and cast, and each gives rich enough content to relish!
Here are some facts that you probably don’t know about McQueen’s Small Axe:
1. Small Axe, a film series, has its name borrowed from a single written by Bob Marley
The name of Amazon Prime Video’s latest film series, “Small Axe” has borrowed its name from the Wailers’ 1973 single and Bob Marley. The lyrics go like “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe.”
2. McQueen had the idea for the “Small Axe” collection for more than 10 years!
During an interview with a news organization, McQueen said that idea for the “Small Axe Amazon” film series has been on his mind for more than 10 years.
He said that everything started at around 11 years back. Despite having the idea for over a decade, the director said he wasn’t prepared to execute it as he needed to find his way through it to make it the best movie. He also rightly said that indeed Time is the best factor to judge a particular period in someone’s life.
And over a period of 11 years, Steve McQueen has created five masterpieces, all filled with precision and passion, making him the most popular filmmaker of today’s age!
3. The film series is enriched with stellar casts and characters!
McQueen has put together an outstanding cast in all of the five films, the most noteworthy being John Boyega (starred in Star Wars) and Letitia Wright (starred in Black Panther).
Wright starred as an antagonist in the “Mangrove,” the first film, an incredible courtroom drama depicts the revolutionary trail of nine Black activists, also called the Mangrove Nine, charged for igniting a riot meanwhile the protest against the police harassment of the infamous Notting Hill’s Caribbean restaurant.
And the critics are praising Boyega for his probably the best screen performance until now in the series’ 3rd filem, titled as “Red, White, and Blue.”
Also, the “Star Wars” actor portrays the Leroy Logan’s role, a forensic Black scientist, who enrolls in London’s Metropolitan police department to fight against systemic racism after his father fell for of police brutality.
4. Critics regarded the “Lover’s rock” as the best one among the film anthology till now…
Source: Vanity Fair
While the rest of “Small Axe’s” films are based on the experiences of West Indian citizens facing racist institutional barriers in the UK—from its police brutalism to the racism in educational and judicial systems—“Lover Rock,” the second movie in the series, is purely about Black joy!
The film sets in 1980 where Black Londoners hosted a private house party as a response to the discriminatory entrance policies at the city’s mostly White clubs. In the film, Martha, played by Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, meets the calm-looking Franklyn (Michael Ward) as the night unfolds into a dreamy, mesmerizing fairytale.
In the midst of the evening, in what is perhaps the most iconic sequence of the anthology, the house DJ, sets the romantic mood and plays a Janet Kay’s 1979 “Silly Games”, a famous hit, on the speaker.
The attendees quickly assemble into pairs, and McQueen’s camera moves right through all the cracks while the beautiful couples sway to the song’s vibrations.
“Lovers Rocks” is a unique artistic gem that serves as an affectionate appreciation of the impact music has in our lives. The film offers everything that the viewers have never experienced before!
5. McQueen’s “Small Axe” is one of his epic masterpieces!!
Small Axe is an epic bundle of five masterpieces; each film has its own striking influence worth appreciating on its own, yet collectively illustrating one particular experience, the racist institutional barriers faced by the West Indian Community in London and how they formed unity and maintained their humanity in the face of White supremacy.
Of course, McQueen’s visual styling and directorial flair to narrate stories is definitely amazing in all of these five movies. McQueen, the greatest filmmaker, is compelled to convey the true stories in the most honest and direct way possible.
The visual presentation hits right on point and perfectly fits the needs of the stories, and the narrative engages viewers with impressive clarity, only be possible for a filmmaker that has mastered the art of moving images far from the hub of Hollywood.
Watch the trailer here: