Exterminate All the Brutes
By Martin Brown,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Powerful documentary shows history through graphic violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Exterminate All the Brutes offers a detailed history of America and Europe that focuses on colonialism and white supremacy. It grapples with difficult, complex material, but the positive messages come with unearthing the history and experiences of indigenous peoples and other races and cultures targeted and sometimes destroyed by colonialism. For some viewers, this may align with and validate their own experience of the world, and it shows how the ideas of colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy are still abundant today.
Positive Role Models
Filmmaker Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) places himself within his documentary in order to tie the sprawling subject matter to the present. He speaks frankly about why it's important to understand precisely who is telling the story of history and relaying the facts in order to understand how history can sometimes seem to support a colonialist view of the world.
Violence & Scariness
Violence plays a major role in this docuseries. The title itself refers to genocide, the killing of indigenous peoples by colonialists and dehumanizing people of color. In order to make viewers understand the violence inherent to colonialism, Exterminate All the Brutes shows graphic violent acts, including murder, torture, and rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Discusses rape as part of the violence of genocide. Nudity is sometimes shown in indigenous cultures, but it is not sexualized.
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Mild profanity is occasionally used and includes "damn," "hell," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol use is occasionally seen. No smoking or drug use is shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Exterminate All the Brutes is a documentary series that explores the history of violence and destruction caused by colonialism and white supremacy. Filmmaker Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) possesses a unique style, featuring unexpected choices like putting himself in the film or using recognizable actors in the historical reenactments. He covers historical events including the conquest of America, the Holocaust, the Belgian occupation of the Congo, and the Atlantic slave trade, and ties them into the present moment, especially in the way that White politicians speak about immigrants and persons of color. Exterminate All the Brutes features frequent graphic violence, used to illustrate the realities of colonialism and genocide, including sexual violence. There is occasional strong language ("hell" and "damn") and some alcohol use. The documentary can often be difficult to grapple with, but it asks important and interesting questions about historical narratives, how they came to be, and who they are serving.
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Exterminate All the Brutes
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What's the Story?
EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES is a documentary series about the history of colonialism and white supremacy. Filmmaker Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) uses his unique perspective to show how current issues in America and Europe are actually part of a historical continuum that reaches back to the Crusades, the conquest of the Americas, the Atlantic slave trade, and World War II.
Is It Any Good?
"It's not an easy story to tell because the story still continues today," filmmaker Raoul Peck says early on in this ambitious documentary about the history of colonialism and white supremacy. Exterminate All the Brutes is a sprawling work that attempts to connect various strands of American and European history to the present moment. It focuses on the idea that history tends to be told by "the winners," and the winners tend to be colonialists who use violence and cruelty to achieve dominance. Peck illuminates the other side of history, from the point of view of the indigenous peoples and other casualties of colonialism. The complexities can be difficult to reckon with, and Peck's narrative jumps around so much it's often tough to follow. But it can also be surprisingly witty, even funny, and Peck's ideas have a powerful bluntness to them. It may be overwhelming, but that's a result of Peck's willingness to confront urgent questions about complex subjects, giving Exterminate All the Brutes a raw power that may not always be satisfying in real time.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about history. How does Exterminate All the Brutes present the history of America and Europe? How does this compare to the history that you've learned? Why is it important to show this side of history? How does the documentary relate it to the present day?
Why does the director Raoul Peck place himself in the documentary? How does he use his own experiences to speak about history? What are some other surprising things the documentary does? How do these unorthodox choices contribute to the documentary's retelling of history?
Where is the phrase "exterminate all the brutes" from? What does it mean? What is the historical significance? How is it used in the documentary? Why did Peck choose this title? What does it represent?
- Premiere date: April 7, 2021
- Cast: Josh Hartnett, Raoul Peck, Denis Lyons
- Network: Max
- Genre: Educational
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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