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Old 11-02-2019, 10:43 PM
Ranchoth is offline
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Join Date: Jul 1999
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ID an eerie slavery documentary? (Charles Ball narrative, disembodied slave collar, suicide)


Something I've been meaning to ask for awhile, and I'm a little surprised I've let slip...

I'm looking for the name of a documentary—likely either on American slavery or the US Civil War—with a particularly eerie scene, that I saw once, back in the 90s.

The part I remember vividly is a sort of reenactment of part of Charles Ball's autobiography, in which he recounts meeting an escaped slave in the woods, locked in a belled slave collar. Ball gave the man the food he had, and asked him to to wait in the area a few days, when Ball would be able to get back with a file to remove the collar.

However, by the time Ball made it back...the fellow had hanged himself, some time before.


Grim subject, to begin with. But what made it creepier, in the documentary, was that they filmed it outdoors, without actors, just narration...with an empty slave collar, puppeteered into frame, as if it were being worn by an invisible, ghostly figure. Peaking out from behind a tree, and than later, hanging from a tall branch by a noose. (As a matter of fact, I think they might have just hanged the collar from an invisible wire for that shot, so it was even more phantasmal.)

The overall style felt like Ken Burns (or maybe Ric Burns), but it isn't (IIRC) part of the Civil War documentary.

I can't give many more details, I'm afraid. Aside from the timeframe (sometime in the 90s, and by the production values, it was probably contemporary, or from the tail end of the 80s at the most), and probably on Discovery/TLC/PBS. It might have been on the Discovery Channel's morning "Assignment Discovery" series.

So...can anyone help me out?
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