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The Mondo Cane Collection: Addio Zio Tom (Director's Cut) back to product details

A misunderstood exploitation masterpiece as it was meant to be seen!
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written by EPetersen December 13, 2003 - 5:35 PM PST
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
Addio Zio Tom (Goodbye Uncle Tom) is truly a one-of-a-kind film, a product of its troubled times, and a film the likes of which could never be made again. This movie has nothing to do with Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, but it has everything to do with the enslavement and degradation of blacks in America.

When this film was released in America in 1971, it was mistakenly condemned as racist. That was because the US distributors had directors Jacopetti and Prosperi remove 13 minutes of pro-black, anti-American political material. This Director's Cut DVD release is the full length 136-minute Italian language version of the film which contains all the political material that was deleted.

The movie opens with footage of Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral and narration quoting the philosophies of the militant Black Panther party. The Panthers hated Dr. King and considered him an "Uncle Tom," hence the title. The film documents the history of slavery and black oppression in America, beginning in the Old South, circa 1850. The Old South scenes were all shot in Haiti, which looks remarkably similar to the old American South.

Basically, this is a bizarre, free-form "shockudrama" which dramatizes the atrocities committed against black Americans by the whites. It's tasteless, vile, and vicious, but these things did occur in our country at that time. The stories are told in "mondo style", purely exploitative and filled with dark humor. Italian "journalists" interview the white slavemasters, who talk about how slavery works, why it's necessary, and why slaves should be treated like animals.

Some of the most tastless scenes ever filmed are contained here. We see everything from female slaves being forced to "breed" with a male to a brothel staffed with young female black sex slaves to a white little girl and her "pet" - a little naked slave boy she keeps on a leash. Just about every kind of humiliation and degradation you can imagine is heaped on the black slaves by their evil white masters.

In the end, the movie shifts to the present, where a black man sits on a beach reading about a slave's revolt and graphically fantasizing about slaughtering white people. The film sums up its semi-coherent message by concluding that while black Americans have every right to hate their white countrymen and "black rage" is perfectly understandable, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy of acheiving equality through peaceful means is the best way to go, and violent militants like the Black Panthers are no better than the white slavemasters. The viewer must then decide for himself if he agrees with that position.

If you want to watch both the cut English langage version of Addio Zio Tom (also available here at Greencine) and this uncut Italian version, I strongly recommend that you watch the uncut version first. Without the important political stuff that was removed from the cut English version, it's a totally different movie, one that could be mistakenly interpreted as racist and a mockery of black people. It's really the exact opposite - a brutal and searing indictment of black oppression in America. And of course, it's also pure mondo exploitation!

This special edition DVD offers a gorgeously restored 2:35:1 widescreen print of the movie, taken from the directors' master negative. Only the Italian language audio track is available, with English subtitles. The uncut English-dubbed version of Addio Zio Tom no longer exists. The film was originally shot with English dialogue and Italian narration. Some dialogue in this uncut version is in English, but it's mostly dubbed into Italian.


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