Review: “Extraordinary” Biopic “Hero” Story of Unsung War Veteran Ulric Cross

All the way from Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, the incredible biopic about Mr. Ulric Cross has landed in London. Directed by Caribbean British Canadian filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, this 111 min drama provides a compelling insight into the life of Philip Louis Ulric Cross (1 May 1917 – 4 October 2013), the most decorated RAF’s West Indian of the World War II and one of the great minds contributing to the independence processes of Ghana, Cameroon and Congo. In 2011, at Trinidad and Tobago’s 49th Independence Day celebrations, he received the “Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago”, the nation’s highest award, due to his outstanding service in the building of free nations through the law.

Solomon spans his life from the early days to documentary scenes of Ulric’s last days. Combining drama and archive footage you see the “extraordinary life and times of a modern hero, someone of humble origins whose voice has not been shouted about enough, a hero whose place in history was marked thanks to his intelligence, hope and perseverance. In 1941 Ulric Cross, left Trinidad wanting a better life and joined the British Royal Air Force, in the film documentary footage of the bedridden Cross sees him recalling “flying over 80 missions” each time thinking he was going to die. Driven by the ideals of West Indian intellectuals Solomon focuses on the African Independence movements that emerged in Africa in the ‘50s and ‘60s, with figures like George Padmore (Fraser James) at the helm.

Solomon presents a scenic route and we see the magnificent landscapes of Africa and the Caribbean, the soundtrack exquisitely chosen for a very entertaining narrative rhythm, you will see yourself immersed in authentic dramatic and tense episodes of history itself,  bringing a worldly relevance to the facts narrated in the picture. Shot in Ghana, Trinidad, the UK and Canada it is an epic cinematic journey.

Beautifully playing homage to the transformative time in which Caribbean professionals helped to liberate Africa from European colonialism, resulting in independence for some and the formation of what we now know to be Pan-Africanism. It is the story about the journey of a hero, a story about Caribbean people in the history of the world. Moreover, it is a look inside people’s hearts, a hymn to hope, a hymn to freedom. The real Ulric Cross died in 2013. This untold story hugely resonates with “our times” and recent conversations. As films go this an inspiring educational journey.  Director: Frances-Anne Solomon  Country: Canada, Trinidad & Tobago Year: 2019 Length: 111 mins

Cast: Nickolai Salcedo as Ulric Cross. Jimmy Akingbola (In the Long Run) Peter Williams (Stargate SG1), Joseph Marcell (Fresh Prince of Bel Air), Fraser James (Resident Evil), Pippa Nixon (John Carter), Ghanaian superstar John Dumelo.

HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Ulric Cross” screens at the BFI on Saturday May 18th at 2pm followed by a Q&A with Director Frances-Anne Solomon and cast Joseph Marcell (work permitting), Fraser James and Pippa Nixon. Click here to book.

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