Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.




Directed by Deborah Kampmeier

Starring Dakota Fanning, Robin Wright Penn, Piper Laurie, David Morse and Afemo Omilami

Plot: twelve year old white southern, poor girl who thrives on Elvis Presley's Hounddog is thrawted in her life's ambitions when brutally raped by a teenage local boy.

Hounddog is replete with fatal flaws that distract from the potentially powerful story the director feels compelled to relate:

1. the film pivots around the song, Hounddog made super famous by Elvis Presley. The director failed to fact check on the origins of the song and she got it all wrong

2. one of the male characters is poorly drawn. He is a black man from the south, does not speak in his own vernacular. He speaks in a white persons voice with educated language although the character is supposedly poor without benefit of a formal education. This error of authenticity lingers well after the film is over

3. it is one thing to put a twelve year old actor on the screen for short periods of time but to make this fledgling actor into the main character for an hour and forty minute film tries the captive audience's endurance. She is neither sexy nor an attractive woman with whom any adult might want to see more of and she is by all standards less than a seasoned professional actor. To have her engage in a rape scene is just bad judgment for which there is no substantial justification.

4. why this twelve year old girl was throwing up towards the end of the film was not clearly stated but when asked, the director said she was not pregnant after her brutal rape but that vomiting is a natural response to a sexual intrusion into a pre-adolescents body

5. how did the girl go from wanting to kill her father at the beginning of the film, for his physically brutal treatment of her, for which we are to believe she has permanent scars, to saying to him in her parting shot, "I love you"? where did this love come from? there was nothing from him that to my mind might change her feelings of rage to pure love.

I am certain that the viewer will find more fatal flaws but I prefer to go beyond what was wrong into what was outstandingly good about the film; the photography was outstanding, the music was excellent.

historical background was poor. The compulsion to tell a story without real depth or subtlety of performance did real damage to an effort that I wanted to applaud but couldn't

opens September 19, 2008

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

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