Sad thing about this documentary and Baldwin's work in general is the in the course of decades nothing seems to have changed much except perhaps to cement his position as a superb intellectual. The problems of yesterday have mostly stayed the same making his observations in no need of updating and as depressing as it may be, there is enough of hope and inspiration in it to try and change the system.
La realizzazione documentaristica del progetto non è nulla che non sia già stato visto prima, ma la vera forza del film sta nelle analisi sociali di Baldwin, uomo di una sensibilità immensa, paurosamente attuali ancora oggi. In mezzo ad un mare di documentari sul razzismo a stelle e strisce, riuscire a fornire agli spettatori spunti di riflessione validi è indice di un grado di umanità non trascurabile.
This is not my country, this is not my culture. And yet, so much of America has changed the world, has become who I am. It is true that America was never an absolute monarchy (like my country was). And that it started as an unequal republic. The growing pains of this country, seen from the other side of the ocean, somehow also inspire. Baldwin's deep words go through the lives and deaths of three other great men.
The history of America is a history of a nation that is corrupted and defined by its racism. This film demonstrates this idea by matching Baldwin's rich prose with archive visuals and popular culture references in a masterful way. A polemic, but one that is deeply perceptive.
A kind of spiritual sequel to Peck's early, spectral documentary Lumumba: Death of the Prophet. The poetic-formal impulses of that work, together with the inclination to ask tough, sometimes reflexive questions of the archive, are again present. But these concerns are writ larger, and with a bigger budget that collides flesh, voice, and image with a moral and semantic density appropriate to Baldwin's prose.
This reminded me of Deleuze : "what is an idea in cinema ? It is an idea you can translate, apply only with the tools of cinema". Therefore here we have no idea, nothing that wasn't already in the texts of Baldwin. Yes, James Baldwin was a great great man and we surely miss him. No, there was no necessity for this film.
Glad this film exists and got distributed everywhere. Only wish the filmmaker had been faithful to the lyrical prose of Baldwin. The narration clashes with the big choppy visual transitions. Out of nowhere text in all caps appears on the screen. Needed better editing especially integrating archival footage.
Engaging w/ a movie can sometimes be an analog for engaging w/ yr conscience. There are few more worthy reasons to make a documentary (or an essay film, which is more properly what this is). Peck's film is built out of and around two Baldwins: one of them is inarguably one of the finest writers of the 20th century; the other is a public intellectual of implacable style, wielding immense gravitas.
There's usually the irony that those who need to see a 'dangerous' cinema, are the ones least likely to see it. A dangerous cinema tells you things you didn't want to know or admit. Mostly we have comfort cinema because people perceive their lives to be difficult, and don't want to deal with those nagging questions in the back of their mind. We want superheros and good vs evil. Narcotize me before I start to think.
Gentle and Brutal. As and introduction to James Baldwin (person and work) and an invaluable piece of history class, this is an astounding film. And now it is more relevant than never. Not only in america, but worldwide, for indiginous people, refugees, and all the people who have been sistematically oppressed for centuries.