Izu Ojukwu’s much talked about historical drama ’76 (formerly known as Lion of 76) is one movie that we’ve been hearing about and expecting to watch in cinemas for over 3yrs now.
The civil war themed-movie which stars Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic and Chidi Mokeme is set six years after the civil war. It follows a young army officer from the Middle Belt (Nouah) who gets into a romantic relationship with an O-level student from the South-eastern region (Dominic).
The movie premiered recently at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where critics and movie lovers alike got a chance to see what Ojukwu and his team had put together and what has since been referred to as one of the big budget and most anticipated Nigerian movies ever made.
While ’76 will not be out in Nigerian cinemas until the 25th of November, we’ve been able to cull reviews from different people around the globe which should give you an idea of what’s to come
Ojukwu ultimately hits the target more than he misses. Nouah gives a rock-solid lead performance, radiating calm authority and moral unease without a flicker of histrionics. The period-perfect nods to Afrocentric fashion, music and hair are great fun, while Dewa’s dirty-dancing party-girl neighbor Eunice (Memry Savanhu) deserves her own spinoff movie. A crash course in Nigerian cinema for international viewers, 76 is a worthy effort, striking a healthy balance between educating and entertaining. – THR
Stunningly shot on 35mm and given extra texture by the use of footage from the BBC Archives, 76 atmospherically recreates the era. Complete with a score of African music, along with some American soul classics, 76 reminds us of the moment when this great west African country lost its innocence. – Keith Shiri (BFI)
From a technical point of view, there definitely are a number of complications throughout that mean you’re disappointingly distracted from the events taking place. Much of the first half of the film is lost among an over-baring soundtrack that from time-to-time literally drowns out what the characters are saying and even though I had an idea of the basis of the stories, I feel vital character connections are missed because of this and, in turn, many moments became confusing. – The Hollywood News
The story itself can be disorienting at times with screenwriter Emmanuel Okomanyi often letting something happened in a way that makes us feel we’ve missed a crucial detail, but this confusion actually drew me in. It’s as though the punch line arrives before the joke: Why is this character lying? What woman is in those damning photographs? Where could Dewa’s ID card have gone when we know the one opponent with access didn’t take it? These added mysteries keep our focus on the characters and their reactions. – The Film Stage
Picture credit: TIFF