Directed by John Akomfrah • Documentary • 2010 • 94 minutes
Structured as an allegorical fable set between 1949 and 1970, THE NINE MUSES is comprised of nine overlapping musical chapters that mix archival material with original scenes. Together, they form a stylized, idiosyncratic retelling of the history of mass migration to post-war Britain through the suggestive lens of the Homeric epic.
In addition to its resonance with Homer's epic, THE NINE MUSES was devised and scripted from the writings of a wide range of authors including Dante Alighieri, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, John Milton, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Dylan Thomas, Matsuo Basho, TS Eliot, Li Po, and Rabindranath Tagore.
"Striking... Extends, complicates, and enriches the definition of documentary." —Melissa Anderson, Artforum
"Cerebral and sensual... considers the history of the African diaspora to postwar Europe through a highly unusual prism of structuralist cinema, archival footage, spoken-word recordings and the nine muses birthed by the union of Zeus and Mnemone, the Greek goddess of memory. Akomfrah's steady, patient pace [makes it] fascinating to absorb his many heady references." —Robert Koehler, Variety