Author: Tyler

The Duckling Ortons: The Story of the Black Man

The Duckling Ortons: The Story of the Black Man

Review: ‘Descendant’ pays powerful witness to the legacy of the slave ship the Clotilda

“Crazy people in a crazy world” is the oft-repeated refrain that comes to mind when describing John Cusack, who, in addition to being the co-author of A Christmas Carol, plays the title character in the latest animated film, THE DUCKLING ORTON.

The film’s title is, of course, derived from the title of the Disney animated musical classic, and indeed the song “The Duckling” is sung by Cusack alongside his cast-mates. The scene itself is an extraordinary one. A group of elderly residents in a nursing home sing with the most joyous abandon while the camera holds still, frozen, on only one particular member of the elderly bunch. As the musical number comes to its thrilling conclusion, a large television screen rises up to reveal a duck — only, of course, there’s been no duck in the room. The camera zoom in so as to reveal the figure of an African-American man in a white suit who stands before the camera, staring directly at it, a look of shock — or even awe — on his face.

“Descendant” is this man’s story. He is a man without a country to call his own; a man who grew up in the midst of slavery on a plantation owned by his father and taken as a slave across the Atlantic Ocean to America. There he was raised by a white couple who worked in the family business until the very end — a few days before his father’s death. He was told that once he was grown, he would be sent back to Africa, to continue his work. “I believe that no good has ever come out of America for the black man,” the man, played by John Cusack, says of the nation’s history. “It is the greatest prison in the world.”

“Descendant” is the powerful story of how America and its white people treated blacks and how this played out on a large scale, with the nation’s economy and even some of its social and political institutions, as well as the very bodies of its citizens, being so deeply and painfully intertwined. This is the story of how, for over a century, America’s slaves continued

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