As a French-born Ghanaian, i grew up in an African home, my parents brought me up to know my roots and where i come from.
I traveled a lot to Africa; learnt how to speak Twi (Ghanaian language) at an early age and i grew up with a very strong love for my African culture.
For my parents, watching African movies were considered one of the major form of entertainment at home, not only were the movies entertaining but also because it was something that reminded them of ‘home’, Africa.
It’s almost like a remedy that made them feel closer to home.
The Nigerian movie industry known as the largest movie industry in Africa in terms of the number of movies that are produced every year, makes it non-surprising that as a young girl, Nigerian movies were the kind of movies that were played the most often in my home, we could watch as many as we could, of all different kinds, from a vast variety.
The Nigerian movie industry- Nollywood has evolved enormously over the years, becoming the third largest movie industry in the world.
Nollywood movies are not only popular among Africans but also among non- Africans; Not only popular among locals but also among people living in the diaspora.
Nigerian filmmakers are often asked during interviews ‘What is the reason behind Nollywood’s success?’ a lot of their answers would be the fact that the stories told in Nollywood are ones the audience can relate to.
One successful Nigerian filmmaker, called Imasuen says during a CNN interview “People get in touch with Nollywood’s direct realism,…People are getting more and more interested, more and more involved in our productions because they can feel the pains, they can feel the excitement, it’s so real to them.“
Nollywood movies even from the early beginning, starting from the 1992 movie ‘Living in bondage’ has been known to produce good story lines, ones that tells African and realistic stories. Ones that a mother, a child, an African could relate to.
Now. because of the success of Nollywood and the evolving pace of the industry over the years, means better quality movies are been made; High budget movies are being produced.
But the purpose stays the same as it has in the beginning : To tell African stories.
And filmmakers, directors are being pushed and inspired to tell even better stories for the mass and variety of audience that is growing everyday.
Now, in my opinion, using my own observations and experiences: ‘What are the TOP 10 Classic Nollywood movies?’
What is a classic movie first of all?
A classic movie is …
1- A movie you could watch over and over again and anytime you do, it only reconfirms the fact that it was and is in fact a brilliant movie.
2- A movie that opened doors for the industry to evolve and sets a barrier for better movies to be created following that lineage and example.
3- A movie that even until now (If an old movie) is considered one of the bests or even THE best.
If a movie has all these 3 qualities above or even 1 of them, then in fact it could be considered a classic movie.
A classic movie for me may not be considered a classic for you and vice-versa but one thing that is sure is the fact that a movie must be awesome enough to be considered a classic for anyone.
Going down memory lane, here are my TOP 10 list of Nollywood classics:
10- THE ORPHAN
The movie stars Nkiru Sylvanus; Jim Iyke and Zack Orji to name a few.
The orphan. This movie is mainly about Jiji a newly orphan and pregnant young woman (played by Nkiru Sylvanus) who goes to the city from the village in search for Henry (Played by Jim Iyke), her boyfriend who impregnated her during his visit to the village.
In the city, She goes to Henry’s place, and is advised to abort the baby, she is disgraced and called many names by Henry’s mother. Pregnant, With no money and no place to go, abandoned, until a compassionate woman notices her and decides to take her into her home until she gives birth. Only when Jiji thinks all her troubles are now gone that unexpected events unfolds.
This movie was one of the most emotional, heartfelt movie I had watched during that time.
The character Jiji played by Nkiru Sylvanus was played extremely well and portrayed so accurately that in fact she became one character that the audience i believe could not help but feel pity and extreme compassion for.
The acting of the actors were extremely believable and the on- screen chemistry between Nkiru Sylvanus and Ji Iyke was faultless.
This movie was also the first I have watched with one actor playing 2 characters at the same time, in one scene.
The soundtracks and camera work in this movie brought an intimate and personal feel which made it perfect for the audience to feel like they were part of it.
This movie all in all is one I could watch over again and still appreciate it anytime I do, for that reason I call it a classic.
9- CHURCH BUSINESS
The movie stars Genevieve NNaji, Ramsey Nouah and Shan George to name a few.
This movie is about a family man named Jimmy (played by Ramsey Nouah) married to Chioma (played by Genevieve Nnaji) who out of desperation decides to join the church ministry by becoming a pastor after going through months of misery trying to find a career that will help him and his family to get out of poverty.
Jimmy eventually becomes a pastor but faces tribulations and spiritual welfare during his ministry which leads him into a complete change in behavior that leads him into rejecting his own family. Until eventually, the power of the almighty God delivers him and his family from the hands of the enemy.
I remember watching this movie with my parents when I was younger, and it was one of the first ever movie I had watched that dealt with Christianity and spirituality. It was a very insightful movie and very different from the lovey-dovey, dramatic kind of movies that were out there at the time.
As a Christian, watching this movie was really inspirational as it demonstrated the power of God and many lessons could be taking from it. The acting in this movie is also superb. A classic.
8- WIND OF GLORY
The movie stars Desmond Elliot ; Genevieve Nnaji & Yul Edochie to name a few.
This movie is about a village girl Juliana (played by Genevieve Nnaji) who became blind at the age of two and has been living with her handicap all her life. A city man named Clark (played by Desmond Elliot) sees her and they both start forming an intimate bond and relationship, despite Jiji’s handicap.
Clark gives her hopes, happiness and changes her life around. But they also go through challenges and trials that will strongly test their relationship and love for one another.
As I’m typing this I have just re-watched the exact movie and the first thing I said after the movie ended just recently, I recall is ‘ Wow, this movie is a cl-a-ss-ic’. I cannot recall how many times I had watched it, but re-watching only reconfirms the fact that this movie was produced perfectly.
The story line is the heart of the movie, not a costume, makeup or the imagery.
The story speaks for itself and is told in a simple and realistic way. It is also movie that also deals with the tragedy of life such as Death, Loss, Illness.
WIND OF GLORY Is a love story told in a non-cliché way, you would relate to every character, their pains, their joy.
A classic among the classics.
7- WORLD APART
The movie stars Ini Edo; Kenneth Okonkwo; Liz Benson & Hilda Dokubo to name a few.
This movie is about a humble but wealthy and well respected King called Promise (played by Kenneth Okonkwo) who falls in love with Uli, a poor girl from the village, (played by Ini Edo) who is the complete opposite of him.
They fall in love but faces numerous obstacles and tribulations coming against their relationship because of their different social backgrounds.
When we think Romantic movies in Nollywood movies history, it is quite impossible to not include the movie WORLD APART.
This movie does not only hold a great cast with some of the well respected veteran actors such as Liz Benson and Hilda Dokubo but it is a movie that no matter how many times I watch, It doesn’t get tiresome. Many would say the same thing.
This movie does not only have a remarkable story line but it is also apparent that a lot of work has been put in the making of this movie. During the time the movie was made, Nollywood producers were yet to have such great facilities as they have now but nevertheless from the sounds, to the soundtracks added and the locations in which some scenes were shot, all that contributes in making WORLD APART an enjoyable piece, even today.
6- BABY POLICE
The movie stars Osita Iheme; Chinwe Owoh & Francis Odega to name a few.
This movie is about a young boy (played by Osita Iheme) who gets sent to the city from the village, to go and live with his uncle because of his stubbornness, his family thinking living in the city would mature him, but little did they know that him living in the city would actually create more trouble for everyone around him.
This movie is one of the most funniest Nollywood movie I have ever watched. The acting of Osita Iheme portraying the stubborn boy makes the movie what it is. This movie is one I could watch over and over again.
A Nollywood classic.
5- OSUOFIA IN LONDON
The movie stars Nkem Owoh as the main character.
This movie is about a villager and a family man (Played by Nkem Owoh) who travels to London, UK for the first time to receive his share of inheritance left for him by his late brother who was a rich man in London.
It would be a big mistake to not include the movie OSUOFIA IN LONDON in my list of ‘Nollywood Classics’.
This movie was the highest selling movie in 2003, year of its release in Nigeria. OSUOFIA IN LONDON also known to be one of the very first Nollywood movie to have gained International success.
OSUOFIA IN LONDON is a movie that proved that a movie could be of a comedy genre but still come out as professional and well directed. A very funny movie with great acting from the cast.
4- MR IBU
The movie stars John Okafor , Osita Iheme as the two main characters.
This movie is all about a father and his son’s journey through life. Their personalities are very similar and their view on life is different from the norm, this pair reacts to certain things in both hilarious and unique ways.
Does the movie even need an introduction? For anyone who watches Nollywood movies, even if not a regular viewer, would at least be familiar with the movie MR IBU.
MR IBU Is one movie I have watched numerous times and still makes me laugh anytime I do. An hilarious movie.
The movie’s popularity became so huge that even until this day John Okafor is nicknamed Mr Ibu, his character’s name in the movie. I believe the movie is a Nollywood classic.. for many.
The first 3 that follows below, on this list are also my TOP 3 favourite Nollywood movies even til date…
Cast: Genevieve NNaji; Charles Okafor, Patience Ozokwor..
A story about a strong christian family whose christian faith and relationship is perturbed when passing through trials and various temptations, but not for long.
Why is this movie a classic? Because it is a movie that cannot be easily forgotten, a movie you would remember even a while after watching it.
This movie for me is definitely somewhere on the list of ‘most emotional Nollywood films’ also.
The amazing acting of each and every member of the cast made the amazing plot and story line justice.
A must watch.
2- CHRIST IN ME
Cast: Tony Umez; Pascaline Edwards; Ngozi Ezeonu…
The movie is about a newly married woman whose married relationship becomes in danger when her own best friend starts showing interest in her husband.
But who can fight against fate and put asunder two people that God has ordained to be together?
From the story line, to the characters; the acting and the way in which the movie goes about telling its story is fantastic and makes this movie a Nollywood favorite and a classic of mine.
A movie i could watch and re-watch anytime.
1- HOUR OF GRACE
Cast : Hilda Dokubo, Liz Benson, Justice Esiri..
The story is about Amadi (played by Justus Esiri) and Azuka (played by Hilda Dokubo),a couple who have been married for over 10 years but are yet to have a child of their own. Azuka turns into pleading her best friend Helen (played by Liz Benson) to be a second wife for her husband so that her husband would finally get the chance to become a father. But little did Azuka know she was making the biggest mistake of her life by trusting her best friend and introducing her into her marital home.
HOUR OF GRACE. my all time favorite Nollywood movie.
The first time i watched HOUR OF GRACE, i was around 9 years old.
As a french born, even though my English speaking and listening skills were limited at that time, or should i say almost non-existent, this movie touched me in a way that even movies that are of my native language could not.
I might have not go through what some of the characters in the movie went through, but I could relate to the characters’ pains. The plot; the characters and even the soundtracks distinguish this movie from any other movie.
HOUR OF GRACE, no doubt an ultimate Nollywood classic, for me.
So, here we have come at the end of this article, telling you about my TOP TEN’s Nollywood classics, from my own perspective.
And all the movies i mentioned, i would gladly recommend to watch also.
Hoping that Nollywood movies that comes out now would also be considered ‘classics’ for future generations.
But a classic movie does not necessarily have to be an ‘old movie’. Therefore, i’m hoping that filmmakers would be inspired to write even better stories, ones with morals and lessons to learn from. And for producers and directors to tell those stories, the best way possible.
For any reader, I hope this article was useful and has let you know a bit more about the fruits of Nollywood.
Don’t hesitate to leave comments 🙂 Thanks for reading!