Movie Review: Pray The Devil Back To Hell
A bunch of ladies looking to get a peace. Photo by Pewee Flomoku.
The Republic of Liberia, tucked warmly between Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast on the African-Atlantic seaboard, is supposed to be a success story. Loosely founded in 1822 by freed American slaves in search of hope, homogeny, and a life of freedom, Liberia immediately became a West African beacon of choice and political change. By 1847 they had established independence, relying heavily on U.S.-educated leaders and the deeply entrenched social norms of the great American South; they even spoke English.
Unfortunately, Liberia would fall victim to the same American failings that had caused such exodus to Africa only a decade before. After enjoying the role of 'beacon of prosperity' and opening it's doors to foreign corporate influence, the wealth quickly amassed at the top, forcing the poor working class to struggle in much the same way as their American ancestors, including slavery and child conscription into the military. By 1980 a military cup had taken place, and would set the stage for the Authoritarianism that would come to rule Liberia. By 1997 Charles Taylor came to power in a bloody insurgency that quickly spiraled the country into war and chaos.
This is where Pray The Devil Back to Hell begins, just before renewed hope and just after a history lesson written in blood. But such background is necessary when dealing with the heavy-handed social commentary of director Gini Reticker. The film picks up where peace leaves off: a 2003 void where warring factions out-atrocity each other in a quest for the money and power a new, provisional government will bring. Times are desperate and the air is heavy with meaningless rhetoric. As children and grown men alike depart on front-line soldier convoys that return empty at dusk, the only people left are the women. And for peace, that is all Liberia will need.