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Moonlight | Many Moons

Trimensional colours which represent the Many Moons (different phases, traits and emotions) of the characters © James Laxton

This cinematic masterpiece shows in three phases: the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of a young Kemit (black) man living in the United States. This feature film also subtly highlights the disastrous family, community, psychological, educational, economic, cultural and spiritual repercussions of an institutional system perpetuating the cultural alienation against a part of the population.


The term "Guardian of the Gates", used by the authors Sobonfu Somé and Malidoma Somé, is a concept equivalent to the "Two-Spirits", a terminology that the First Nations use to name (LGBTQIA+) people in their culture.


Alex R. Hibbert

Little is a child with a shy and introverted personality. He lives in a social environment where violence and drugs are rampant. He has difficulty communicating and expressing his emotions. Paula/Naomie Harris, his mother is the only one who takes care of him, she is helpless, without resources and under the influence of addictive novice substances. Juan/Mahersahala Ali, is a positive father figure for Little, but also a drug dealer. He decides to take him in as his son because he is a child of the community. Teresa/Janelle Monáe is a positive mother figure in contrast to her mother. She is gentle and caring towards him. Little fails to fit in with the boys in his school and neighborhood because his uniqueness as a Gatekeeper shines through in his personality and in his way of being, hence the fact that he is constantly marginalized. Kevin/Jaden Piner is the only one who gives him his benevolence and his friendship. One of the scenes in the film, the aquatic scene, 17min48s-19min26s highlights the healing and learning effected by the father having physical contact/healthy closeness with the son. Healing through water, one of the four fundamental elements (water, air, fire, earth) makes it possible to draw a parallel with the Noun, Primordial Water of the ancient Egyptians and the perception of water among the Dogon and Bambara peoples., Akan and Bantu-Venda where water presents itself as a vital, purifying force, a primordial creative energy. In the scene that follows, Juan lets him know that black people were the first to appear in humanity: "Black people are everywhere, never forget that […] there is no place in the world where you won't find black people. We were the first on this planet.” These words are true, especially since we know that black people are the first known humans to have appeared on earth in the Great Lakes region (until proven otherwise) before expanding into Europe [The African Roots of European Civilization, Nioussérê Kalala Omotunde], in Asia [One Hundred Thousand Years of African Presence in Asia, Runoko Rashidi], in America [They came before Christopher Columbus, Ivan Van Sertima] and in Oceania. Juan tells Little an anecdote in which a lady would have told him in Cuba that: "In the moonlight, black boys look blue" thus referring to Melanin. Paula having resigned from her role as a mother, Little is plagued by deep loneliness from an early age. Two scenes allow us to better understand his suffering and the dynamics between Juan, his mother and him. The first, 27min10s-29min45s is the one where Juan discovers that Paula uses drugs. He summons her to pull herself together, she retorts that he is not the person authorized to advise her because he is one who contributes to her downfall. The second, 34min53s-35min50s is when Juan becomes aware a second time of the devastating effect of his activity on Little's mother who in her descent in the chaos, drags her son too.


Ahston Sanders

Chiron is a withdrawn teenager whose facial expression conveys anger, bitterness, hyper-sensitivity and insecurity. His friend Kevin/Jharell Jerôme is confident, funny, carefree and sexually active. He is aware of Chiron's uniqueness. We could possibly dwell on the insidious aspects of Colorism when Kevin (light-skinned) nicknamed Chiron (dark-skinned) Black. What is the figurative meaning of this affectionate nickname? At home, her mother's situation deteriorated considerably, as did the condition of the house. She's overshadow her son. She is forced to indulge in demeaning sexual practices allowing her to have money to buy drugs. Chiron still has this strange feeling of abandonment. He will find comfort with Teresa and Kevin. A particular scene in the film, the moonlight scene, 49min33s-55min49s shows moments of affection, intimacy, confidence and tenderness between the two characters. It is a magical moment between Kevin and Chiron and the expression of their Friendship-Love. In highschool, Chiron suffered the wrath of a boy in particular Terrel/Patrick Decile who show him contempt and visceral hatred by his intimidating gaze, his inappropriate remarks and his incessant mockery. He represents a indecency virility, a toxic masculinity inherited from the patriarchy in which Chiron is perceived as a weak man because of his femininity. In another scene of the film, the scene of the breakup, 1h00min25s-1h03min36s, Kevin has to be face to face to Chiron who demonstrates immense courage when his eyes meet the distraught gaze of Kevin who despite himself decides to hit him under coercion/group pressure and by protection at the risk of being beaten up by Terrel and his whole gang. This new emotional fracture gives Chiron the opportunity to take his revenge on Terrel, 1h04min10s-1h05min58s. A revenge that will rush him into the spiral of the judicial/prison system long decried in the documentary The 13th by Ava DuVernay.


Trevante Rhodes

Black is a young man who has prefabricated a personality modeled on Juan. He hardened himself in body and mind. His new muscular shell allows him to command respect. He manages to present a predominant masculinity thus crushing all his femininity which was once perceptible by those around him. He no longer has a sustained relationship with his mother. In one of the scenes, 1h10m57s-1h11m31s, Paula is a woman in the throes of grief and this can be strongly felt in the sound timbre of her voice. When he decides to visit her, she admits having emotionnally harmed him during her childhood and adolescence. She asks him for forgiveness for all these emotional wounds for which she is responsible. Kevin/André Holland renews contact with him by sincerely apologizing for the wrong that has done him. During their reunion, the two characters look at each other with great love. Chiron's gaze is charged with emotions between the joy of finding him and the sadness of realizing that the moment of intimacy they had as teenagers had not had the same impact on Kevin's life, who has now a family. Chiron is somewhat confused, disappointed with a slight sense of anger. Kevin remained the same sparkling with energy and filled with joy. Kevin shows him his affection through a sumptuous melody by Barbara Lewis, Hello Stranger. After that, they decide to go to Kevin's home. It is at this moment that they engage in a discussion at 1h41min15s-1h43min29s in which Kevin talks about his experience of life. This scene presents a perspective where we see that both Chiron and Kevin have been broken by the system in which they live. They are unable to express a touch of sensitivity between men without risking a questioning of their masculinity. Black tells him one last secret at 1h44min22-1h46min01s, in which he tells him of the considerable and positive impact that this intimacy has had on him on a sentimental level. Kevin aware of this does not reject him but gives him this attention and this need for affection that he had not received since his childhood.



In the moonlight, Little grew up in a dysfunctional family environment. He was unable to experience feelings of love for his mother. This Maternal failure did not allow him to fully appreciate the Sacred Femininity in him. He also suffered from a Paternal deprivation. This lack of positive masculine representation in his environment did not allow him to build himself properly at the level of his masculine energy which was altered. Hence the importance of having Positive Maternal and Paternal Figures for the child. A particularly disturbing scene of the film, and perfectly arranged at the level of the artistic direction: 30min04s-30min45s (the music, the slow motion of the scene, the choice of colors) show a better understand of this dynamic. In the moonlight, Chiron is under the yoke of a Strange Melancholy, because he still didn't feel loved and appreciated at its true value. He unconsciously cultivates a low self-esteem inherited from his mother. Even if Juan, Teresa and Kevin demonstrate to him by their actions the love they have for him, he still carries within him the stigma of suffering. A scene from the film allows us to cleary see it: 1h03min37s-1h04min09s. The terrible condition of the bathroom is a reflection of the Toxic Relationship with his mother and the consequences on him. In the moonlight, Black has shown Resilience in some way, by becoming the opposite extreme of what he once was on the outside, but he remains a broken man on the inside. The Healing process can nevertheless begin because his mother and Kevin recognize their wrongdoings and apologize for their misdeeds. These moments were important for Black to have his heart soothed by the power of Forgiveness. The last scene of the film at 1h46min02s-1h46min30s, presents a memorable memory of his childhood where order had been restored on the emotional disorder.


Barry Jenkins the Director, was inspired by the Playwright In Moonlight Blacks Boys Look Blue written by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Director of Photography ©JamesLaxton

The African Philosophy of the Pharaonic Period 2780-330 BC by Théophile Obenga published by L'Harmattan editions.

All Kugaruka's writings are legally protected in terms of Intellectual Property and Copyright.

© Kugaruka

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