The Films, Books and Expeditions of John L. Brom
Introduction: Africa’s Last Romantic, by Glenn Reynolds
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Introduction: Africa’s Last Romantic
The Beckoning Land
The ‘golden’ era of European filmmaking in colonial Africa extended from about 1910 to 1960, as a result of increasing interest in the industrialized West in exotic images from distant countries. Following World War Two, Equatorial Africa in particular was a site targeted by filmmakers from all over the world to compete for something new and sensational. There was one European explorer, author and cineaste of the continent who remained fascinated by the fast-disappearing Africa of old, and who worked tirelessly to catalogue its many unique cultures undergoing rapid transition. John L. Brom, heralded for numerous treks through some of the most remote areas of the continent between 1949 and 1962, was in many ways a man born a century too late. Having read in his youth the thick tomes of earlier African exploration, he perhaps would have been more comfortable accompanying one of the many European explorers who traversed the beckoning land of Africa in the second half of the nineteenth century. Yet even in his own time, Brom emerged along with Armand Denis and Lewis Cotlow as one the most prolific postwar chroniclers of the ‘Africa of old’ as the continent veered fitfully toward independence.1 A resourceful man of remarkable wit and tenacity, Brom produced a steady stream of documentary films, books, and television specials on the unique cultural attributes of tribal Africa which were translated into numerous languages and went into wide circulation...
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