The Journey of the S, Stories on Sickle Cell Disease
The Journey of the S, as a movie deals with the impact of stigmatism and depression from the Sickle Cell Disease which is common in Nigeria. The movie is directed by Hafeez Adeyemi and this week, Dim Oba takes us through the review.
The movie has about four separate individuals with SCD, everyone seems to know each other by some means – fiancé, friend, old school-mate, long-lost child, and what not – and a movie meant to help de-stigmatise SCD turns itself into some kind of weary reunion and reconnection story.
The Journey of the S tries not to be a movie just about SCD and the issues surrounding it, it tries to give us other sub-plots and storylines, which is commendable, showing that people with this illness have actual lives and don’t just exist as disease-stricken individuals. But those other stories manage to simultaneously seem unnecessary and insufficient, and it rather feels like the movie stretches itself too thin by trying to do much, and gives us little.
On the surface value and going by the title, the movie sounds like it could be a group of people on some of kind death-row journey, or at least trapped in an escape room. But entails a handful of people, but they’re not quite a group, nor are they together.
The movie is a crash course on Sickle Cell Disease (SCD); but it’s not so much about the nitty-gritty of the ailment but it centres on how SCD is viewed and the stigmatisation around it.
The Journey of the S is a more than decent concept for a film, a movie about perspective and real-life issues is an area Nollywood has yet to quite tap into, yet the concept in no way manages to alleviate the film’s flaws or accentuate its good bits. To use an analogy, if the movie is a journey of de-stigmatisation, then it very much got a flat tyre midway, ran out of gas at some point, and for some reason the car radio just wouldn’t work.
The movie deserves credit in that regard; for showing us people with such disease. We see desolation, resignation, isolation, shame, and some form of depression from the victims, four people from different families. We also see ignorance from those without the disease, highlighting the blatant stigmatisation of the victims.
The movie also tries to tell us that SCD isn’t exactly fatal or some kind of Black Death, and it also manages to show us that despite the efforts of others – parents footing the medical bills, siblings and friends trying to be supportive – the victims are really those with the disease.
The Journey of the S doesn’t quite do enough of a job of telling us how these victims feel, nothing truly solid from the perspective of those with SCD. In a movie of this kind, the audience should at least get to meet the protagonists halfway, but that doesn’t quite happen while the movie fails in terms of dramatic and literary elements; aside from a rather trivial moment of foreshadowing, we see nothing else.
The issue could be that the movie focused so much on the message, it didn’t go a good job of being an actual film.