Larceny is defined as the unlawful taking of personal, tangible property from another person. Aside from being used to make a lame pun using Larken’s name, Larceny is the main feature in The Master, in which everything from large dollar contracts to personal properties are subject to non-violent takeovers by experienced conmen.
In The Master, the viewer is introduced to this now well-known crime scene, where seasoned crime syndicates hatch elaborate schemes to dupe their prospective targets in handing over whatever is requested. This could run the gamut of properties, personal belongings, but the most prized is obviously money. We see this world through the meteoric rise of a poor man, who seems to be down on his luck. A freshly deported lawyer, the man is at a loss, until he becomes a target of a small 519 scam. At first accusing his scammer, he eventually becomes immersed in the 519 world, as a novice or apprentice. From small chemical scams to large elegant oil contract scams, the protagonist demonstrates his rise as the head of his own syndicate. Aside from being rather entertaining, there are some deeper aspects to be examined, which can be revealed thanks to Larkin’s study into Nollywood and its motivations.
Before going into what inspires Nollywood film, it perhaps is necessary to see the motivations behind the 519 scam. Naturally, this is an easy one. 519ers wish to increase their own personal wealth, many times at the expense of their prey. However, Larken goes further into this crime phenomenon by placing it in the context of wider Nigeria. Larken cite AbdoulMaliq Simone, who recognized the intense trends of instability that rob Nigerians of their common sense of security. These chaotic catalysts include prolonged economic stagnation, government corruption, ethnic tensions, and religious extremism. This poor environment leads Nigerians to adopt “a constant state of preparedness, a willingness to experiment in situations of poverty to achieve some measure of stability or control” (Larkin 170).
Larken goes onto divide Nigerian cinema into Northern and Southern styles. The Southern style is focused upon depicting shocking behavior, but tries to argue on its behalf in away. The Master accomplishes this by showing the protagonist cheat people out of millions of nairas and eventually dollars. When Dennis (i think is his name) is confronted by the media, he justifies his actions by comparing it to the Western 519 scams that the country seems to just fly by. These legal scams include the historical trend of slavery and what I think was an abbreviated explanation of the procedures of the World Bank. Through depicting the unsavory business of 519 scams in an ambiguous way, the filmmakers are also motivated by a common theme that permeates all national film industries, which is to entertain the audience by showing a world that is uncommon to their normal lives.