What We’re Watching: Exterminate All the Brutes

Exterminate All The Brutes (HBO Original)
Available through Durham Tech’s Films on Demand database

Exterminate All the Brutes, Raoul Peck’s four-part documentary series, portrays the historic patterns of colonialist violence and genocide through powerful dramatizations. Peck includes pockets of deadpan comedy through his direct, sneering narration by having white western actors verbally deliver the thin historic justification for conquest directly to indigenous audiences. The result is a unique series of visual essays that trace this historic pattern of violence right up to the political tensions that characterize our present moment.

This documentary was watched by Kyle Minton, Reference Librarian for the Main Campus and Northern Durham Center. 

Why did you choose to watch this?

Raoul Peck’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s Civil Rights memoir I Am Not Your Negro (DVD available at the Main Campus Library) is one of the best documentaries I watched in the past few years. I’m also acclimating myself to Durham Tech’s many, many resources and happened to find this gem in our Films on Demand database!

What did you like about it?

I’m a fan of Adam Curtis, a BBC documentarian who creates wide-ranging historical documentaries using newsreel archival footage. Exterminate All The Brutes offers a similar approach with a keener eye toward the dry absurdity that characterizes much of history and its authors. Peck has a low-simmering ferocity with his work here that makes each episode deeply engaging.

Did it remind you of anything else? 

I recently watched the first episode of Alex Haley’s Roots (DVD available at the Main Campus Library), and while that show was heavily criticized for historical inaccuracies, I could see it contrasting nicely with this series as an examination of how one constructs and showcases a historical narrative.

Was there anything particularly noteworthy about this?

Peck does a fantastic job bridging these historical chapters to our current events.

What feeling did it leave you with?

Curious to explore the rest of Peck’s filmography!

Who would you recommend this to?

This is probably not for those users looking for a light-hearted series. 

Is there anything you’d recommend to someone who liked this?

Have you read a book/ebook/audiobook, listened to a podcast, or watched a tv show or film that you’d like to review for the Durham Tech Library Blog? We have a form for that!