Half of a Yellow Sun (film)

Half of a Yellow Sun is a 2013 Anglo-Nigerian drama film directed by Biyi Bandele and based on the novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This film explores the profound themes of identity, love, and resilience in the face of war. It confronts the complexities of personal relationships set against the backdrop of political chaos, while also addressing the lingering effects of colonialism on Nigerian society. The narrative skillfully portrays the struggle for personal identity and the quest for love amidst the horrors of war, offering a poignant reflection on the human condition during one of Africa's most challenging historical periods.

Half of a Yellow Sun
Theatrical poster
Directed byBiyi Bandele
Screenplay byBiyi Bandele
Based onHalf of a Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Produced byAndrea Calderwood
Gail Egan
StarringThandiwe Newton
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Anika Noni Rose
Joseph MawleJohn Boyega
Onyeka Onwenu
Genevieve Nnaji
Hakeem Kae-Kazim
CinematographyJohn de Borman
Edited byChris Gill
Music byBen Onono
Paul Thomson
  • Shareman Media
  • Slate Films
  • British Film Institute(BFI)
  • Lipsync Productions
Distributed byMetro International
Leap Frog Films
FilmOne Distribution
Soda Pictures
Monterey Media Inc.[1]
Release dates
  • 8 September 2013 (2013-09-08) (TIFF)
  • 16 May 2014 (2014-05-16) (United States)
  • 21 March 2014 (2014-03-21) (United Kingdom)
  • 12 April 2014 (2014-04-12) (Lagos premiere)
  • 1 August 2014 (2014-08-01) (Nigeria)
Running time
111 minutes
United Kingdom
Budget₦1.3[2] – 1.6 billion
(US$8[3] – 10 million[4])
Box office₦340 million[5][6]
(US$2.1 million)

It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandiwe Newton, Onyeka Onwenu, Anika Noni Rose, Joseph Mawle, Genevieve Nnaji, OC Ukeje and John Boyega[7] and was filmed on location in Nigeria. The film premiered in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[8] It received mixed reception from critics.

Plot edit

Half of a Yellow Sun begins during the first Nigerian Independence Day on 1 October 1960 and concludes at the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. The film is interspersed with archival stock footage of television news broadcasts of political events in Nigeria.

After completing their university education in the United Kingdom and United States, twin sisters Olanna (Thandiwe Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) return to Nigeria. Their father is the Igbo Chief Ozobia (Zack Orji), a wealthy businessman who owns assets in Port Harcourt. Spurning an offer to marry Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh, Olanna decides to move in with her lover, the "revolutionary professor" Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who teaches at the university in the Nigerian city of Nsukka. Meanwhile, Kainene takes over the family interests and pursues a career as a businesswoman, falling in love with Richard Churchill (Joseph Mawle), an English writer.

At Nsukka University, Olanna finds work as a sociology lecturer and befriends Odenigbo's houseboy, Ugwu (John Boyega). However, Olanna faces hostility from Odenigbo's mother "Mama" (Onyeka Onwenu), who distrusts the highly educated Olanna and considers her a witch. Disapproving of her son's relationship with Olanna, "Mama" plies Odenigbo with alcohol and arranges for her servant Amala (Susan Wokoma) to have a one-night stand with him. A devastated Olanna wants to break off the relationship, but her Aunt Ifeka (Gloria Young) convinces her to return to Nsukka.

Despite having a one-night stand with Richard, Olanna and Odenigbo reconcile and agree to raise Amala's infant daughter as their own child. The child is named Chiamaka but they call her "Baby." After falling out with Kainene, Richard returns to London. While waiting at the airport, he witnesses Northern Nigerian soldiers slaughtering Igbo civilians in the build-up to the Nigerian Civil War. Meanwhile, Olanna is caught up in a race riot and barely escapes with her life. As ethnic tensions build up, Olanna and her family flee Kano and resettle in Abba in Biafra. After reconciling with "Mama", Olanna decides to remain in Nigeria and marry Odenigbo.

While Biafra declares independence, Richard returns from London to work with his lover Kainene, who has become a war profiteer, importing arms to Biafra. The fighting forces Olanna and her family to evacuate to Umuahia. During the wedding reception, Olanna and her family narrowly escape a Nigerian bombing raid. As the civil war drags on, Olanna and her family relocate to a refugee camp where she reunites with her sister Kainene, who has experienced a change of heart and helps to run the refugee camp. Ugwu is later conscripted as a Biafran child soldier.

As time passes by, Olanna and Odenigbo befriend Kainene and Richard. With the refugee camp running low on supplies due to the civil war, Kainene decides to travel into Nigerian territory in order to trade with local peasants despite Odenigbo's warnings. Several days pass by and Kainene fails to return. While Olanna and Richard fail to find Kainene, they are relieved to learn that Ugwu has survived the war and welcome him back to the family. Following the defeat of Biafra, Richard continues his search for Kainene while Olanna, Odenigbo, Ugwu, and "Baby" rebuild their lives.

The post-script mentions that Kainene was never found while Richard moved back to Nsukka. Olanna and Odenigbo remained married for nearly fifty years while Ugwu became a writer. Their daughter Chiamaka (aka "Baby") becomes a medical doctor.

History edit

This film uses the Nigerian civil war as the background, and it happened between 1967 and 1970. The conflict comes from the differences in religion and political culture between Igbo ethnic group and Muslim Hausa-Fulanis.

Cast edit

Production edit

Half of a Yellow Sun was shot across five weeks in Tinapa Studio, Calabar and Creek Town, Nigeria.[9] Bandele lists malaria and typhoid as two of the major challenges of the shoot, with several members of the cast and crew becoming ill, including star Thandiwe Newton.[10]The project would not have been possible without financial support from Nigerian sources and the British Film Institute. This funding was critical to moving beyond the development phase and into actual production” this is the paragraph

Music inspired by the film edit

In February 2014, it was announced that D'banj would release a track titled "Bother You", a song inspired by the film, to coincide with the release of the film. D'banj was inspired to record "Bother You" after watching the film. The music video for the song includes images from the film.[11]

Reception edit

Critical response edit

Half of a Yellow Sun received a mixed reception from critics. It currently has a 51% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 53 reviews, with a 5.53 out of 10 average score. The site's consensus states: "While it doesn't quite do justice to the source material, Half of a Yellow Sun adapts Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel with committed performances and narrative nuance".[12] Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter writes that it "is the kind of ambitious literary adaptation that wants it all kinds of ways, not all of them compatible" and that "the script is studded with great leaden lumps of expository dialogue".[7] Nollywood Reinvented says the film is nowhere as good as the book, but points out that "Even though the movie does not recreate the emotions of the book it creates its own emotions". It also says that "The movie builds on amazing sets, actors, supporting actors and music", but the characters lack depth.[13] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave Half of a Yellow Sun 2 out of 5 stars, also commenting that "there is a heartfelt quality" but that "unfortunately, the film is often stately and sluggish with some very daytime-soapy moments of emotional revelation. At other times, it looks more like a filmed theatrical piece".[14] Robert Abele of Los Angeles Times give the film 50 out of 100 in Metatric. He said the film that "certainly makes for an honorably propulsive wartime soap", and "It's just not stirring enough as historical drama."[15]

Adichie's reception edit

Adichie was happy about the final product of the film, as she thought it was beautiful and very well done. She also said the acting was very good and she loved the fact that it was filmed in Nigeria, which was her only requirement.[16]

Accolades edit

Half of a Yellow Sun had 6 award nominations.

Box office edit

Half of a Yellow Sun became the highest grossing Nigerian film, until it was overtaken by The Wedding Party.[17][18]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Monterey Media Acquires TIFF Dramas 'Half Of A Yellow Sun' & 'Cinemanovels'". deadline.com. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  2. ^ "'Half Of A Yellow Sun' Confirmed as Nollywood's Most Expensive Movie". Information Nigeria. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  3. ^ Tlhabi, Redi (4 May 2013). "South2North : Welcome to Nollywood". Al Jazeera. YouTube (Al Jazeera English). Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  4. ^ Fisher, Luchina (9 May 2014). "Nigeria's Nollywood Reaches Mainstream with 'Half of a Yellow Sun'". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  5. ^ "HALF OF A YELLOW SUN GROSS N280 MILLION...IN NIGERIAN CINEMAS AUGUST 1". This Day. This Day Live. 20 July 2014. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  6. ^ "30 Days In Atlanta is Nigeria's highest grossing film –Ben Murray-Bruce". Sun News Online. 28 December 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b Felperin, Leslie (11 October 2013). "Half of a Yellow Sun: London Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Half of a Yellow Sun". TIFF. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  9. ^ "half of a yellow sun everywhere... stuns toronto, premiers at affriff". Lagos, Nigeria: This Day Live. 22 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  10. ^ Soffel, Jenny (21 October 2013). "'Half of a Yellow Sun' shines bright on future of Nigerian film - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  11. ^ Copsey, Robert (17 February 2014). "D'Banj unveils movie-inspired 'Bother You' music video – watch – Music News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Half of a Yellow Sun (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Half of a Yellow Sun". Nollywood Reinvented. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  14. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (10 April 2014). "Half of a Yellow Sun Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  15. ^ Abele, Robert (23 May 2014). "Review: 'Half of a Yellow Sun' doesn't add up to a satisfying whole". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  16. ^ Bah, Sidique (27 February 2014). "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Salt Magazine". Saltmagazine.org. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Nigerian films try to move upmarket: Nollywood's new scoreboard". The Economist. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  18. ^ Akande, Victor (14 September 2014). "Toronto: Nigerians disagree over new Nollywood". The Nation Newspaper. The Nation Online. Retrieved 24 March 2015.

External links edit