Directed by: – Izu Ojukwu
Produced by: – Adonaijah Owiriwa
Starring: – Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Rita Dominic, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Daniel K. Daniel, Memry Savanhu, Adonai Owiriwa, Pat Nebo, Nelly Ekwereogu, Shauaibu Ebenesi Adams, Debo Oguns
Runtime: – 118 minutes (1 hr 58mins)
Nollywood is steadily becoming a fantastic and creative avenue to educate Nigeria, Africa and the International audience about our country’s history. This year, we have seen 93 Days, a movie that reflected on the Ebola virus epidemic in Nigeria that could have wiped out the entire country. In the same year, we have also witnessed the production of a movie which took an informative attempt to reveal how the first oil well discovered in Nigeria impacted the denizens of Oloibiri in Rivers State. A part of our history that is cached or not really discussed are the many military coups that have altered the course of our nation. After seven years in development hell and a rigorous six month shooting period at Mokola Barracks in Ibadan, 76 is the first movie that aims to illuminate this facet of our history.
Set six years after the civil war, 76 is a historical drama that uses the unsuccessful military coup and assassination of then Head of State, Murtala Mohammed that occurred in February 1976 as a backdrop. The movie follows a young and patriotic officer, captain Joseph Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) who is stationed at an army barrack in Ibadan who is in a strained marriage with the heavily pregnant Suzie (Rita Dominic) who hails from the South-eastern region. While the pair is waiting for the birth of their first child, fellow officers at the army barracks are in the final phases of planning a coup to off Murtala Mohammed. Dewa is asked to take part in it but wishes to have no involvement as his priority lies with his journey to Fatherhood and saving his marriage. Fearing that Dewa will report on the mutineers, the officers stationed in the barracks plan to stop Joseph from leaving the barracks using methods of blackmail, violence if necessary and utilizing the hostility of Suzy’s disapproving family who are not of the same ethnic group. After the assassination of General Mohammed came the military police clamp down on the barracks and arrest of all officers and since Dewa had ties to the plotters, suspicion that he was involved naturally arises and the police come to the conclusion that he is destined to face death by firing squad. It is up to Suzie to prove his innocence even though the odds was against him.
Featuring Nollywood powerhouses like Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme and Rita Dominic and the vision of African Movie Academy Award winning director Izu Ojukwu who also serves as co-producer with Adonaijah Owiriwa; is this drama one that should be added to the national history archives or is one that should be forgotten in the annals of time?
- The film’s cinematography and production values are commendable. The film is shot beautifully on Super 16mm film, which gives the film a clean and crisp look that is a cut above many other Nollywood productions. The movie is oozing with style thanks to clever camera work that includes the use of striking angles, grainy point of view shots from period appropriate cameras and economic use of black and white footage which helps give the movie documentary-esque feel when it is required to help visualize the 1970s Nigeria. The movie’s sound quality and mixing is also without a doubt the best I have heard this year from Nollywood.
- 76 did its homework on the authenticity viewpoint. The costumes, props and vehicles scream Nigeria in the 70s and the movie is backed with an impressive soundtrack that helps characterize the era the movie is set in. From the jazz blend highlife feel of Fela Kuti’s “Buy Africa” to the bluesy undertones of Miriam Makeba “where does it lead”, the songs in the movie help set the mood and in certain instances help move the story forward.
- There are some impressive performances across the board. Ramsey Nouah gives one the strongest performances this year as Captain Dewa, a very likeable officer with a strong moral compass who is intelligent, calm, resourceful and authoritative. Another notable performance that is worthy of awards is Rita Dominic as Suzie. She portrays her character with a deep level of sincerity that enables her to pay homage to the strength of Soldiers wives who have to also deal with the consequences of a soldier’s decision whether it is in the battlefield or the office. She has a great rapport with Nouah’s character, which makes the intertribal relationship more believable and also gives the film an ample opportunity to shine light on the challenges that lovers from two different tribes face. Memry Savanhu also gives the crowd a solid performance as Dewa’s neighbour Eunice a dirty-dancing girl who wears eccentric fashion wear and styles that encapsulates the 70s and also acts as the films comic-relief. Chidi Okeme’s role as fellow officer Gomos is also good as he presents himself as a character who possesses wit and charm but makes a villainous switch at the flip of a coin when the coup is about to commence.
- One of the biggest praises I can give to this movie is its ability to raise the stakes and suspense whilst keeping its audience on their toes without resorting to the excessive use of violence. The movie successfully achieved this effect thanks to the great story and the casts acting ability.
- Some pacing issue bugs the experience down. The opening minutes whilst entertaining and paramount to setting up the movies characters, motives and scenery were a little too slow for my liking, thankfully the movie picks up itself up during the second half and doesn’t really slow down till its conclusion.
- I appreciate the fact that the movie’s main focus is not re-telling the story of the aborted coup but a love story. I feel that the movie missed an opportunity to give greater historical context to the state of the nation at that particular time. The movie fails to provide a valid reason for why people wish to overthrow the current head of state and I don’t think he is even once mentioned by name. The movie instead throws the audience into the deep end as they are transported to that era as soon the movie starts. Despite this particular nitpick the movie still manages to stand tall over this flaw thanks to its plot and this talks volumes about the film’s story if it can get the audience engaged without providing detailed background knowledge.
76 is a gripping historical drama with great production values and performances from its extremely talented cast. It manages to walk the line of being educative and entertaining with its history and its themes and it ultimately stands as a perfect indicator that the industry is moving forward.
RATING: – MUST WATCH!!!!
76 is set for a release in Nigerian Cinemas nationwide on the 25 November 2016.