Almayer’s Folly: Chantal Akerman’s Final Feature

Made in 2011, Almayer’s Folly, Chantal Akerman’s final narrative feature, will be available on various platforms from Icarus Films, on November 22, 2016.

World-renowned visionary Chantal Akerman has loosely adapted to the screen Joseph Conrad’s novel of the same name, and in the process has managed to make a film that is very much her own—despite relying on a pre-existing literary source.

Almayer, a Dutch trader stationed in a Malaysian village, lives in the thick of the jungle and alongside a winding river. His mixed-race daughter, Nina, is born out of his marriage to a local woman who later on descends into madness.

As much as Almayer hates his wife, he loves his daughter; however, his relationship to his daughter is complicated by his conception of race. He views his wife and the jungle he lives in as malevolent and savage, and the European race as superior.

Within his narrow view of the world, his daughter’s existence brings up complex issues of race that Almayer is unable to reconcile, a confusion that adds to his own madness.

Nina is sent away to a Western boarding school, where her racial make-up turns her into the target of racial and cultural alienation. Bitter and blaming her white father for feeling stigmatized, Nina returns home harboring deep hatred towards Almayer.

Nature plays as much a role in this film as the plot line. Aimless and dream-like long takes of the thick, humid jungle confronts the viewer with strong colors and the vibrancy of nature. The wilderness seems to parallel Almayer and Nina’s tangled thoughts and intense emotions.

The last feature film from legendary filmmaker Chantal Akerman, Almayer’s Folly is an eccentric exploration of cultural conflict, identity and colonialism.

Like the best of Akerman’s features, the film is technically rigorous, emotionally resonant, and intellectually stimulating, offering a distinctive perspective on issues that are seldom raised—not to mention dealt with seriously—in mainstream American or European cinema.

On November 22, 2016, Almayer’s Folly was released on DVD and became available for digital purchase and rental on Amazon, Google Play and Vudu.