Oscar Micheaux’s bold, forceful melodrama, from 1919—the oldest surviving feature by a black American director—unfolds the vast political dimensions of intimate romantic crises. . . . Heaven as a reward for their unquestioning submissiveness. Micheaux’s narrative manner is as daring as his subject matter, with flashbacks and interpolations amplifying the story; a remarkable twist regarding Sylvia’s identity, slipped in at the end, opens up a nearly hallucinatory historical vortex.
December 22, 2017