DVD Half of a Yellow Sun

DVD Half of a Yellow Sun
DVD Half of a Yellow Sun
Run time: 111 min
Rating: 6.4
Genres: Drama | Romance
Director: Biyi Bandele
Writers: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Biyi Bandele
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose
Sisters Olanna and Kainene return home to 1960s Nigeria, where they soon diverge on different paths. As civil war breaks out, political events loom larger than their differences as they join the fight to establish an independent republic.
Plot Keywords: nigeria, nigerian civil war, biafran war, biafra, color in title
Country: Nigeria, UK
Release Date: 21 March 2014 (UK)
Box Office
Budget: NGN 1,270,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $4,843 (USA) (16 May 2014)
Gross: $44,268 (USA) (11 July 2014)


  1. This film is a great example of some incredible archive footage ruined by a boring, mediocre and incoherent film in between.

    Yes, I have read the book. I wasn't expecting a literal screen translation of the book, as the book covers a vast array of characters, but I did expect the essence of it to be retained.

    It wasn't.

    The film follows the lives of twin sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Akina Noni Rose) right after Nigeria gets its independence from the British and through to the Biafran war, as the Igbo people struggle to establish an independent republic. The film (similar to the book) tries to follow the lives of these 2 affluent young women, their relationships with men and with one another set against a significant historical event in Nigeria.

    I went to watch this film specifically to support African Cinema and exited about a Nigerian Director making a film with a strong cast. I was bitterly disappointed with the lazy result.

    Firstly the performances; Chiwetel Ejiofor is ever earnest in his role as Olanna's lover Odenigbo. He is OK, not offensive and gives a similar performance as he did in 12 years a slave. Thandie Newton is horrific. She has literally two expressions. I like to think its to do with the bad direction, someone should have told her she's over-acting .

    The worst and best performance came from Odenigbo's Mother played by Onyeka Onwenu. What can I say. The best is that she was very entertaining, funny and a joy to watch. What made it the worst was that it belonged to a different film. A film I would have preferred to watch by the way. Her performance added a quality of a soap opera to the film. Anika had the strongest performance among them and deserves a mention for it.

    The film has two parts, the first comes across as a cheap soap opera and the second, a cheap action movie. Choices that were made baffled me. Scenes played out that were pointless and didn't add much to the plot, making the first half plod along longer than it should have. The second half was riddled with inconsistencies and poor editing. Characters were introduced just as quickly as they were killed off. I am not sure why it was important to illustrate on a map were everyone was, that added nothing.

    But the biggest problem with the film is that it lacked a director, a proper director. There wasn't anyone keeping the actors believable, controlling the movement of the camera, having a coherent edit or keeping tabs on the horrendous sound score.

    Unbelievably the producers also produced Constant Gardener and should have known better than this. How can you allow an inexperienced Director to helm such a significant film? It's arrogant and irresponsible.

    I am African (yes, I know it's a continent), I applaud any one trying to make our stories for an audience outside of the continent but this effort was so poor that I had to write about it. We can do much better than this.

  2. Half of a Yellow Sun is a fantastic novel, so any adaptation was going to be very difficult. Adapting a great book should be approached with care and most successful adaptations have focused on one or two key events or characters rather than try to retell the whole story. In this case, the adaptation attempted to tell the whole story and, subsequently, manages to avoid any depth as it simply skims along the surface in order to get the end. Often, scenes which serve no point other than to relay a piece of background information continually appear and it is shocking that such experienced film makers failed to guide the writer/director away from such obvious pitfalls. In order to accommodate as many details as possible from the novel, many superfluous scenes lead only to confusion and rely on the audience either having read the novel or having in-depth knowledge of Nigeria's history. Some characters appear only to serve as expositional devices. This film has one or two excellent performances DESPITE the material but generally the actors appear to be at a loss as to what to do. This is the director's first movie and it could that he wasn't comfortable with the pressures of time and of shooting out of sequence.

    It is sad to be so 'down' on a movie that has its heart in the right place, and one can only imagine that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie must rue the day that she allowed her beautiful work to be adapted by someone who had little or no grasp of the screen writing process that could have turned out a great film script.

  3. I watched this film at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. It is an Okay film for the first-time director Biyi Bandele – jumping straight to big budget film ($10M). Nevertheless,  it does not deserve the golden award for best feature film. ZIFF is promoting mediocrity. There were other local African films that deserve the award – as 'local' is one of ZIFF main criteria. ZIFF is a not-for- profit organization, and it functions no different than the big-name for-profit festivals. If you don't know what I am talking about – watch the documentary Official Rejection (2009).

    Hollywood actors, big-name producers from Constant Gardener, and expensive special effects did not embellish the poor directing skills of Biyi Bandele. 

    To be successful in his next film project, I advise Biyi to first divorce himself from his novelist style. 

    Just as acting-for-play is different than acting-for-film; the same rule applies to writing a book vs a film script; directing a play vs directing a film.

    Biyi does not yet understand the job of a director. There are certainly a LOT of specific directorial responsibilities that he needs to master to become a good director.

  4. I beg to disagree with many of the other (negative) reviews. I believe that the movie communicated the right intensity. It's not about the book, it's about a story needing to be told. I'm a Nigerian who is closely intimidated with the war and the true story, and this film did enough to express the reality of it on many levels. I especially appreciated the live footage. I've been reading memoirs from a variety of ethnicities who were involved in the war, and this movie shows a story that is consistent with all of their stories. It's only one perspective, and fictional at that. I would recommend this movie to anyone and everyone interested in Nigerian history and heritage.

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