“Burning Sands”, directed by Gerald McMurray and written with Christine Berg, dramatizes hazing in American college fraternities, and tries to look for a balance between group loyalty and safety for the pledges – when does one tell or snitch?
The film, shot near Petersburg VA (there is one shot of downtown Richmond) seems to take place at a black college. I would expected the film to show a reasonable racial mix at a modern college, including white, black, native and Asian. I personally don’t know whether the Greek system still has a lot of racial segregation in southern states.
The film takes place over six labeled days, leading to a Hell Night on a Saturday.
Much of the film is seen through Zurich (Trevor Jackson) who starts out dealing with the 6 AM military-like drills and pushups, and attends class during the week. English professor Hughes (Alfre Woodard) assigns a paper and at one point says, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. Zurich is quite troubled and late with his term paper and consults with an alumnus and Sean Richardson (Steve Harris) who still consuls loyalty to the Greek system.
The hazing gets more brutal, with some blindfolded water torture in a swimming pool. Finally, one of the pledges gets boxed on the ears. I’m surprised this would create a serious head injury, but soon the pledge is frothing the mouth. The upperclassmen take the boy to an emergency room in Richmond and run. Zurich, at the end, calls his father. One is left with the impression that the boy dies. Zurich says something like “Now I decipher who my tribe is and live a life to know what the other side is”.
There is another film on Youtube about ragging in a college in India, called “The Punishment” (legacy review), and it is somewhat homoerotic and homophobic at the same time, legacy review. This short seems to build on the idea of physical body shame and comparison to other men in a group.
During my last first fall freshmen semester at William and Mary in 1961, the freshmen boys (all of them, not just fraternity pledges) were supposed to go to a “tribunal” the last Friday in September, where some of the boys would have their legs shaved. I skipped out on this, and I wonder if that contributed to my eventual confrontation with the Dean and my expulsion. I cover all that in my DADT-1 book.
There was an incident at Louisiana State University where a student died, apparently of alcohol poisoning, in a hazing incident, covered on CNN here.
|Director, writer:||Gerald McMurray|
|When and how viewed:||Netflix Instant, 2017/12/28|
|Companies:||Mandelay, Kino, Netflix|
(Posted: Friday, December 29, 2017 at 11 AM EST)