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Half of a Yellow Sun2013

  • 3.7
  • passes the bechdel test
Olanna and Kainene are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Upon returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the "revolutionary professor" Odenigbo and his devoted houseboy Ugwu in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests, and surprises even herself when she falls in love with Richard, an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements, and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life seem to loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire world. A sweeping romantic drama, HALF OF A YELLOW SUN takes the sisters and their lovers on a journey through the war which is powerful, intensely emotional and, as the response of readers around the world has shown, it is a story which can touch everyone's heart.

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Member Reviews (3)

A sprawling, epic romance set before and during the Nigerian Civil War of the 1960s. This was the most expensive Nollywood film produced ($8 million) and it flopped big around the world. Even so, there is still much to recommend. The art direction is excellent, as are all the technical crafts (not common in Nollywood). The acting is also fine, but one gets the feeling that the screenwriter tried to put in too much of the source material. There's a lack of depth that translates into a soap opera quality. Sometimes the actors pull it off, sometimes it feels like the plot is hopping to and fro. This is a great example of Nollywood trying to break out of its local shell, and for that it is essential. But one wishes the final product had either been a more focused film or a multi-part TV show.

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Well worth watching if you want to get some notion of what happened in Nigeria post-colonial independence. It is important for us all to have that opportunity to know and I think this film serves that purpose well as a kind of instructive film and sparks much interest in finding out more about the details of the power struggle seen in the film. I doubt many who aren't Nigerian such as myself have much of an inkling about what happened there in the 1960's, so for me the film was illuminating. NIgeria I think is commonly viewed as sort of monolithically atrocious and this film dispells that and we see Nigerians for the people they obviously are and people caught up in some serious chaos. That said it is a more conventional film and aside from the subject matter it would easily work as a prime time cable televison movie, so not for people looking to watch something incredibly clever or innovative or even particularly deep. As someone else remarked here, we don't get too close to people's lives so there is an arms distance look at the characters, tho' that is not to say that we don't see much of their interpersonal dramas and intrigues much in the way that we get from soap operas. Beautifully shot, quite a gorgeous film despite the tragic subject matter of a region disintegrating into civil war. But the band of main characters get through it all as we read in the post-script notes and they are mostly seen to get through the mayhem in one piece both physically and psychically, so the film is not the gut wrenching tragedy it could so easily be given the setting of the film.

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