Nigeria has come a long way in the movie-making industry. We concentrated on TV soaps for a while (e.g. Bassey and Company, New Masquerade, The Village Headmaster, Behind the Clouds, and one of my all-time favorites, Checkmate) and then from out of nowhere we decided to take a cue from Hollywood and breed some homegrown stars in our very own ‘Nollywood’. Storylines, though sometimes far-fetched (like a man marrying a barren woman and then marrying her fertile sister to have a baby and expecting to live as one happy family), have been very creative indeed – that’s the formula that keeps you glued and could account for the popularity of our movies in Ghana, America and the UK. We’re not storming the box office with any blockbusters yet but our DVDs/VCDs are in heavy rotation internationally and could be coming your way soon! But when you do watch a Nigerian DVD be warned about some false portrayals of Nigerian behaviour and lifestyle:
I’ve watched one movie in which two baddies walked into a hospital and made an attempt to kill their target patient who was in a coma. Sounds realistic so far, right? If I told you that both baddies stood on either side of the patient’s bed and started to strangle him? Yes, BOTH of them. How many men do you need to strangle someone who’s unconscious? They looked so ridiculous and they looked like they were having a hard time but thankfully the police arrived in the nick of time to save the day. Learning point: When your target is unconscious one assassin will do.
Home security is a serious issue in Nigeria but some of the movie directors don’t seem to think so. Only in Nigerian movies will you see an uninvited guest just stroll into the living room of a (bewildered) homeowner whose sat there wondering ‘What are you doing here?’ Surprisingly the response is never, ‘Oh, your incompetent security guard let me in’ or ‘Your 8-foot gate was left wide open so I showed myself in’. Directors… (tisk, tisk).
One that really baffles me is when Nigerian movie directors dabble in Special Effects – Believe me, they’re about as special as a blink from the man whose job is to watch paint dry. For instance, an actor was thrown over a balcony by some baddies – very dramatic, right? How about the hallowing scream of the actor who was plummeting to the concrete below? That was even more dramatic. But the downside (ironically) was the fact that the scream echoed long after he had hit the ground…and why wouldn’t it…the building was only 2 storeys high! Could you even scream for up to 3seconds during that short drop? The actor’s ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo’ should have been a more realistic, ‘Noo…(kaplunk!)’. Learning point: A lengthy, echoing scream is only necessary when an actor is thrown off a 10-storey building or into an abyss.
And lets not forget the unnecessary sequels. Just about every Nigerian movie I’ve watched on TV had part 2 coming straight after it. It’s not like they are necessary in the first place. A lot of time is wasted in Part 1 with dancing scenes (Ave. Running Time: 5mins), flashback scenes (Ave. Running Time: 10mins), and the worst yet…driving scenes (Ave. Running Time: Close to forever). But love ’em or hate ’em, Nigerian movies are quite entertaining and I hope that you watch at least one in your lifetime – you’ll be glad you did 😉