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Daughters of the Dust

Wow, this movie has been pretty annoying in the first few minutes — the use of music indiscriminately as a “bed”, and how Now That’s What I Call Stock Nature Sounds Vol XIV is used constantly… It’s ridiculous.

Everything here is a cliché.

Well, OK, I’m only ten minutes in. Perhaps it’ll turn out to be awesome, despite the indifferent (if pretty) cinematography, annoying soundtrack and atrocious foley work.

So bokeh.

Very drama.

If it hadn’t been for the music telling us how to feel (every damn second of this movie) I wouldn’t have been as annoyed, I think. But the sound bed is insufferable. So I turned it down now.

The incessant music er cessed! Ceased! Stopped! *phew* The movie is much more enjoyable now. (The hyper-active foley guy hasn’t given up yet, though — every time somebody picks up a piece of paper you get at SCRUNCH sound, and if somebody touches their hair you get a SCRIIIITCH sound.)

I think this is all supposed to happen on one day? In the previous scene, the sun was setting, and in this, it’s… not? So I guess they just filmed for a couple weeks without thought for where the sun was? It’s all filmed outside, si it’s a logistical nightmare if you want to have consistent light, and I think they just decided “eh whatevs”. Or perhaps “it’ll look more magical if every scene has the sun coming from a random direction”.


In 2022, Daughters of the Dust was named at number 60 in the Sight & Sound Greatest Films of All Time list selected by critics and published every 10 years since 1952.

It was not on the directors’ top 100.

Many, many people are saying that this is a non-linear movie:

I’ll start by saying that I usually like non-linear movies

But… is it? Are people interpreting the shifting lights as meaning that things happen over a long time or something? It’s basically just a (big) family having a dinner party one day and talking about stuff (like whether to go north). (And then we get some flashbacks to Olden Times now and then.) It’s really straightforward — it’s a Robert Altman kind of thing?

(Well, OK, there’s also an unborn child doing a voice-over.)

It might also be the painfully uneven acting that’s leading people to think that there’s more er complexity? Some of the performances are really good, but two of the most central characters sound like they’re putting on a student performance of Shakespeare — “poetic” voices, don’t you know.


It seems to have several dialects that would be impossible to close caption and completely unintelligible as it is. Only a rare person would get anything from it.

Perhaps all the mystery surrounding this film comes from people not being able to understand what they’re saying? I’m watching it with subtitles, of course, and they are in standard English, not in the dialect they’re talking.

I’m actually kinda enjoying this movie now. If they’d removed the horrible soundtrack, it would have been a pretty watchable movie.

By turning down the volume so I almost couldn’t hear it, I found that I quite liked the movie. It’s nice — it’s a movie type that I’ve mostly encountered in Swedish cinema? That is, we’re introduced to a large group of people (for instance a family) who are getting together for an event, and we listen to all these people bicker and talk and slowly get to know how the family dynamics work. And then in the third act, there’s always some dramatic thing (somebody has to make a decision or whatever), and then everybody goes home.

I’ve had a look at rottentomatoes, and most of the reviews are incomprehensible to me, because they talk about “non linear” and “complex” and “timelines”, and… there’s less than a handful of flashbacks, and otherwise it’s totally, utterly linear, as far as I can tell. (Well, OK, there’s the unborn girl we see in the past, too, but she’s doing the voiceover, so…)

So it seems to be a well-liked movie, but because people didn’t understand what anybody was saying?

Anyway, the sountrack is so painful that I have to go with this die:

Daughters of the Dust. Julie Dash. 1991.

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