DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO REVIEWED
“Destination: Planet Negro” comes to us from the makers of “CSA”. While that prior mockumentary created a bit of fervor among the Tumblr crowd, the material it presented was some of the best filmed research on the American Civil War that I’ve ever seen. This film is no exception for historical accuracy, but it changes the filter. It wants to place 1950s ideals of 1930s sensibilities on pioneering African Americans. The end result is the most bizarre take off of “Forbidden Planet” that I’ve seen in years.
A lot of detractors slammed Willmott’s earlier film for giving too much potential material for the wrong side. But, again…this film walks that line. By having a Sci-Fi film where downtrodden African Americans of the Depression dream of a bright future and get the modern ghetto…the material is rich for controversy. The central premise of the crew’s desire to build a rocket to colonize Mars as an African American sanctuary is fun, but quickly forgotten. For the last half of the film is the academic African American superstars of the 1930s trying to make sense of what went wrong now.
No one is judged in the present day, but the methods of urban targeting and decline are studied. You get a “Silver Streak” moment or two, but the film stays firmly in its Sci-Fi roots. Like all great material of its kind, it dares you to dream of worlds not yet imagined. Then, it dares you to explain the world that is.