Eve's Bayou Brings Post-Memory Towards West-Indian Culture

In an all-black community in Louisiana, a young girl learns her father has committed infidelity and turns to hoodoo to seek justice.

Semoy Booker
Semoy Booker
July 20, 2021
5
INCLUVIE SCORE
5
MOVIE SCORE

Sometimes when I watch a film that praises Black representation, I get skeptical because no film can represent all black people; including me. Then I watched Eve's Bayou (1997) with my mom, a film that didn’t represent me per se but my family. I grew up in a Black West-Indian family from Trinidad & Tobago, I wasn’t born in Trinidad but there were certain stories I grew up hearing belonging to the West Indies culture. Eve’s Bayou is centered on a young girl named Eve played by Jurnee Smollett, who discovers her father (Samuel L. Jackson) is not who he seems to be when she catches him with another woman who is not her mother. Eve develops resentment for her father after knowing he’s committed infidelity numerous times and allegedly harassed her older sister (Meagan Good), she turns to hoodoo to kill her father and get justice. This leads me to discuss post-memory, I understand post-memory as passing down stories and images to one’s experiences that are not your own. One of the post-memories is familial. My mom would tell me stories about obeah and the forgotten language of patois in the family. In Eve’s Bayou patois is a language that only the adults communicate through not the children, it made me wonder what if the older generations of my family had taught patois to the newer generations. This reminds me of the film Daughters of the Dust (1991) where the matriarch of the family doesn’t want her descendants to forget their roots. 

In a tent surronded by antique jars, Mozelle and Elzora sitting across from each other

Aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan) on the left and Elzora (Diahann Carroll) on the right.

And then there’s obeah. Aunt Mozelle played by Debbi Morgan and Elzora played by Diahann Carroll are the only two women in the film who practice hoodoo. It would be similar to call them the Obeah Woman in Trinidad, where clients would go to them to see their future, ask for healing, or to place a hex on someone. Obeah has become a taboo subject in my family. We can see hoodoo is taboo in Eve’s Bayou because no one tries to explain to Eve what the practice is and some of the characters don’t acknowledge hoodoo being real. What I like about Kasi Lemmons' approach to Eve's Bayou is she does not stereotype her characters, instead, she brings forth a culture that isn't talked about much, and might as well be considered forgotten. But, Eve’s Bayou will never be forgotten.