Hard-hitting, moving document-ary using incomple-ted notes of James Baldwin (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) for a projected book on the lives and deaths of three of Baldwin's friends, Martin Luther King Jnr., Malcolm X and the lesser-known Medger Evers, all assassinated in the 1960s within a few years of each other.
The exclusive subject treated by this film is the status of black men and women, specifically in America, aspects of which have not gone away even today, and using Baldwin's own words either through TV interviews and appearances as well as his written words eloquently recited by Jackson, and in addition, quite substantial extracts from a speech he gave at Cambridge (University, England) Students' Union.
There's plenty of newsreel footage and stills from incidents of the time - demonstrations, police brutality and the still horrifying-to-see naked hatred directed at non-white citizens, a lot of the images being new to me, though the nature of which was well known.
Brief extracts of feature films between the 1930s and 1960s illustrate ingrained attitudes fed to (overwhelmingly white) American audiences to make them feel better about the underlying injustices, and shifting any guilt feelings onto 'the negro problem'. Happy families and gaily dancing and singing young groups habitually exclude any non-white faces so that you'd think that true contentment only happens for - and worse, only is deserved by - whites.
Director Raoul Peck has assembled disparate sources into a coherent whole, showing that if anyone really thought that the situation had substantially improved over 50 years, that attitude might need re-examining. A good 'wake-up call', sadly still necessary - though how many times have we heard that kind of thing before? And not only in America. With Brexit having brought out the very worst of so many of us Brits, and along with our Imperial history including a prominent part in the slave trade, we can't have the luxury of smugly pointing at others.
As far as this film goes, it merits being influential and widely seen ...................7.
2 hours ago