A few minutes into Izu Ojukwu's 76, I thought 'well, that's some interesting choice of words'. I do not know the reason behind the writer's diction but I do assume it must have something to do with the time period the movie was set in. I also do not... Ugh this is strenuous. I didn't exactly get the writer's aversion to contractions. The incessant use of 'do not' instead of 'don't' bothered me, especially considering that 1976 wasn't exactly the Shakespearan era. Never mind my nick picking though(I would really love to talk to Emmanuel Okomanyi , the scriptwriter, on this issue), let's get on to the movie proper and why I have captioned this article 'The Future of Nollywood."
Now, I'd like to begin by saying a hearty thank you to Mr. Izu Ojukwu and everyone who worked on this project. It was so beautiful, I cried. I spoke earlier on the writer's interesting diction but I wouldn't forget to mention how beautifully he weaved the story of a man and woman who were seemingly different yet so strongly connected with each other. I liked the angle from which the story was told. Very impressive work there.
The biggest issues I have with Nollywood cinema standard movies as a whole, are in the post-production stages, precisely film transition. Or as I like to call it, FLOW. You know how Jay Z is one of the greatest to ever do it because his lines are not just tight, but he's also got that flow? Yes, Nollywood needs that Jay Z effect. Wrap it up and serve it clean. That said, though '76 had a few glitches between the first and third scene, it cleaned up nicely as the story unwrapped. Great job there by Emeka Ojukwu, the editor. It'll be almost impossible for me not to absolutely adore a movie that gave me the Jay Z effect!
There's an abundance of talent in Nollywood and '76 did a fantastic job of casting them. Ramsey Noah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima and the Zimbabwean, Memry Savanhu interpreted their roles remarkably well. It's very telling of a director's expertise when every individual actor gives a good performance.
I'd like to give special props to the art director. Excellent interpretation of the year the story was set in. The authenticity of the movie, to the very smallest detail - the interior decoration, the fashion and even the gait and demeanor of the characters - speaks volumes on how much thought was put into the film from as far back as the conception of the idea, through the pre-production and into the principal photography. I appreciate the thoroughness especially in Nollywood where we see a lot of 'wuru wuru to the answer' even in less complex films.
The make up artist as well did a good job. I definitely did not recognize Chidi Mokeme as Major Gomos until well into the film. I was literally on my seat thinking "when is Chidi coming in" until I finally put two and two together. Lol! I also digged (dug???) the hell out of the 'starch on Ramsey Noah and the fit of that uniform was, for lack of a better term, delightful to the eyes. Ramsey Noah's entire person is delightful to the eyes, but I drift. The Joseph Dewa character played by Ramsey was not only intelligent and morally upright, but extremely attractive too! I definitely got the James Bond vibe though I'm almost certain it wasn't deliberate.
A film is never really great if nothing is said of its cinematography. The shots were well angled with clean clear imagery. I was particularly impressed by the despondent scenes that showed Suzie (Rita Dominic) and Angela (Ibinabo Fiberesima) in successive states of gloominess. Very beautifully captured.
I've gathered that the movie had a budget of 600million Naira ($3m) putting it at a record highest film production in Nollywood, above 93 days' 400m. With a budget that big, one would wonder if it could do better or at least, as well as Ay's 'A trip to Jamaica' which is at the moment, Nollywood's highest grossing movie. Seeing as the 93days movie reportedly ran a loss, it's a legit fear. I'm keeping my fingers crossed though!
In conclusion, the Nigerian historic event archives are rich with engrossing stories waiting to be turned into film. It's a niche that could be carved and owned, and I think Izu Ojukwu could be the man for the job. He could well be on his way to revolutionizing the African film industry and taking it on to the world. It'll be a delight to see that happen in my time!
P.s Anyone know if Mr. Ojukwu is looking for an intern!?😃😃