‘Exterminate All the Brutes’ offers a searing second take on US history

Near the end of “Exterminate All the Brutes,” director Raoul Peck’s searing four-part historical hybrid about the sordid history of colonialism, he says, “The very existence of this film is a miracle.” He’s right, less because of its existence, but rather seeing such a sweeping indictment of US history, and the way it has traditionally been taught, in a broad commercial venue like HBO.

Weaving his own biography and personal experiences into the tale, the Haitian filmmaker has produced a hard-to-describe project, mixing detailed dramatic sequences, animation and documentary elements, with actor Josh Hartnett, somewhat distractingly, representing the face of oppression and genocide through various stages of history.

The central theme, however, focuses on a long road of racism built on the tentpoles of “Civilization. Colonization. Extermination.” Peck draws on author Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” for the title, before proceeding t