An interesting idea is over-explained in the documentary “Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango”. Here, the theories worth voicing are apparently worth repeating, and the catchy-sounding beats will certainly be replayed multiple times.
The film, aimed at enthusiasts rather than the general public, focuses on the music and dance of tango and postulates that this Latin American art form has deep roots in Africa. According to interviews with a few musicologists, historians and percussionists, the slaves who were brought to Argentina and Uruguay introduced the beats that underlie the rhythm.
Helped by a lot of music (but not enough dancing), director Dom Pedro sets a playful tone. Although the theory that tango has African origins is controversial, no one is presented to dispute this view. Most boring and friendly respondents are allowed to chat for long periods of time as they circle the topic and then walk away from other topics.
Visuals are also allowed to walk around, with pleasing but aimless images of towns, rivers, and street musicians. It’s like Mr. Pedro is one of those spirited neighbors who just have to show you all the videos he took on his last vacation, the shots and everything.
The most intriguing scenes in “Tango Negro” are where the film traces the influence of immigration and slavery in South America, then explores the concept that cultures transmit information through art. But if at first you miss this section, don’t worry, you will see it and hear it again.