Quick-Thoughts: Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Unlike any other “vibe” movie I’ve ever seen. A two-hour glimpse into the last-minute existential pulls and draws of transitioning into foreign culture with fears and reliefs of letting go of the old, a critique of tradition yet also a celebration of it given its essentialness to human nature as we see in their similarities to modern contemporaries, and a theatrically displayed emotional evocation of not knowing whether it was the past burdening you and the idea of losing it when converting to the times of change or if it was more so the damage it’d be doing to loved ones who’ve valued cultural devotion since they built its inception and to the ones who could be born if they chose to stay. I think that’s the “awe” though of once indulging in tradition, that our roots assure us of the therapeutic safety that’ll likely come of what we may later be inclined to believe and create in the future.  

Would solely recommend checking this out just for the few performative harangues it features — and even for its ambitious editing and assertive score — but fair-warning, this is a demanding film to watch given it’s unconventional narrative structure and ruminative aesthetic that hit me personally for better and worse. 

Verdict: B-

“Daughters of Dust” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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