Film: Empire Lost
Directed by: Andres Frank
Executive Producer: Daniel Leon
Production Company: StrathCo Enterprises & Casio River TV
Empire Lost is a thought-provoking documentary that explores the history of the UK's role as an empire and nation in the 20th century. Produced by Daniel Leon with his company StrathCo Enterprises and Casio River TV, the film presents a well-crafted historical account, accompanied by captivating film clips of many figures from history. It's a must-watch for anyone interested in history and the impact of colonialism on the modern world.
However, as with any broad history, there are bound to be controversial omissions or errors. One major flaw is the presentation of the history of the British in India without mentioning the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The murder of innocents by Brigadier Reginald Dyer and its subsequent lionization by the British government and public caused moderate Indian leaders to lose faith in British rule, leading to Indian intransigence during subsequent negotiations for Dominion status.
The film also fails to address the Bengal famine, which killed millions during WW2 due to British policies, and Churchill's dismissive comments about Indians "breeding like rabbits." Gandhi and Nehru's demands for independence during this time period are understandable given these circumstances.
The narrator's smug dismissal of Indian soldiers captured at Singapore who threw in their lot with Subash Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army is also problematic. While it may be true that they couldn't have expected any tender mercies from the Japanese, Indian leaders and INA soldiers knew about British treatment at Jallianwala Bagh and later British disregard for millions of dead Bengalis.
Another issue is the drawing up of the line of partition between India and Pakistan by British "experts" who knew nothing about India, leading to over a million deaths and over ten million displaced from their homes. The British had spent 250 years exacerbating communal distrust and violence to divide and rule, yet expected inflamed passions to cease the minute independence was granted.
Additionally, the film fails to address British culpability for their bad influences, such as in British Palestine, where their desire for a buffer state next to the Suez Canal led to the oppression of Palestinians.
Finally, the film's excessive back patting is a turnoff for some viewers. Despite these flaws, Empire Lost is still a worthwhile documentary that raises important questions about the impact of colonialism on the modern world.