Martin Scorsese will partner with Harry Belafonte to tackle a limited series about Belgian King Leopold II and his genocidal reign over the Congo.
Scorsese, the living-legend of a director, is looking to continue with his portrayal of violent historical figures on television, hopefully with the same success as he has had with “Nucky” Thompson on ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (who is based on real-life racketeer Enoch Johnson). Belafonte’s interest stems from both his love for the arts and drama as well as his political activism.
King Leopold’s reign over the Congo is an example of colonialism at its very worst. In the 1800s, his rule was responsible for the deaths and mutilation of over ten million Congolese Africans. He initially sent his people to the Congo with the promise of philanthropic missionary work, but secretly he enslaved the native people in order to create massive rubber plantations and add to his immense wealth. He became, at one point, the richest person in the world, while at the same time being responsible for countless atrocities—cutting off hands, starving people into forced labor, holding children ransom, and burning villages to the ground.
Scorsese will direct the first portion of the series—maybe just the first episode, as he did with ‘Boardwalk Empire’—with subsequent directors to take over for the rest of the series.
Would you be interested in this potential project about King Leopold II with Martin Scorsese behind it?