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Films >> Ultima Cena, La (The Last Supper) (1976) >>

Born for the Fields?: Alea's Construction of Slavery Justification and Revolution
By Sean Magee, with comments by Elena Zubenko, Ed Tabor, and Krystal Kaai

Before I start this essay, I feel the need to remind the reader that I find slavery in all its forms to be an oppressive and terrible institution, and I firmly believe that for centuries (including this one) bigotry is one of the most terrible stains on our civilization. The views I intend to express in the following essay are in no way meant to condone the practices of slavery or racism; they are meant only to evaluate and interpret the construction of slavery in film.
The Last Supper -- The Story of Condoning Slavery
By Charlene Aquilina and Marissa Williams, with comments by Elena Zubenko, Ed Tabor, and Krystal Kaai

The Last Supper condones slavery through the use of the Bible. The whole movie is the relation of a religious event that took place in the time of Christ to a period in the history of the Americas when slavery was commonplace. The Last Supper scene at the core of the film is an exact replication of Leonardo DaVinci's painting of the actual Last Supper, which consisted of Christ and his twelve disciples sitting at a table for the last time together. (Click here for images and audio.) Christ knew that it would be The Last Supper because one of them would betray him. The Count acts as Christ had and brings twelve slaves to sit with him at his table. This reenactment of a religious event was to persuade...
The Count of Casa Bayona: Kind or Drunk?
By Andrea D. Espinoza, with comment by Ed Tabor

In La Ultima Cena (The Last Supper), director Tomas Gutierrez Alea gives us a gruesome vision of eleven heads on pikes that tower above a plantation. These heads belong to eleven of the twelve slaves that the Count of Casa Bayona invited to dinner after handpicking them out of a line-up. The story Gutierrez Alea tells us is that the Count had their heads mounted after they betrayed his trust and almost destroyed his plantation. However, Gutierrez Alea also tells us that the slaves did these actions only after the Count reneged on the promises he made to those slaves at that very dinner. So the question that arises is this: When the Count made those promises to the twelve slaves, was he being kind and sincere or was he merely...
Amistad: Countering the Count
By Alexander Vernak, with comment by Ed Tabor

Through the portrayal of the character of the Count in The Last Supper and John Quincy Adams in Amistad, clear distinctions can be made in the depictions of race relations in the two films. Furthermore, the imagery the Count chooses to ordain himself with, specifically, Jesus Christ seems better fit for the character of Adams in Amistad. The shared ambition of Adams and the other abolitionists in Amistad reveals that the dehumanization of the slaves in The Last Supper is more the plotting of a hypocritical count than a universal burden shared by all white property owners at the time these films portray.