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(Review originally written at 24 September 2010)

It's funny how this movie is mostly being known for just one thing; the fact that it's the oldest, still existing movie, (that we know off of course) that got directed by an Afro-American film-makers. But this of course in itself is really not saying much about the actual movie. It doesn't say anything about its quality or about its pioneering innovativeness.

Still fact remains that this is an interesting piece of history. It's a account on film, on how life for the average colored person was back in the early 20th century. It's not only that but it's also a view on how life for them should be like. A life without racism and a life in which they get treated equally, also by the tight high upper white class. It's purely a movie shot from the black man and woman's perspective, which makes this movie an unique watch really.

It's a movie with mostly a cast consisting out of Afro-American actors. One thing that strike me about this was that those actors on film did not looked Afro-American at all. You would expect in a black & white person that an Afro-American would appear as black but in fact their faces and bodies often look more white than black, on film. Perhaps this is also part of the reason why film-makers in the old days every so often used blackface-actors, rather than actual Afro-Americans for their movies. A lot of directors from the early days of cinema get now day slammed for not using actual Afro-Americans in their movies but perhaps there were more and other, more movie-technical, reasons for this, rather than simply being racist toward our colored fellow man or woman.

As for the actual movie itself; it's pretty good. It has a great story, that of course was considered to be quite controversial for its time, due to its subject and the fact that it got made by an almost entirely black cast and crew. It showed how things really were at the time, for the Afro-Americans but it's also a movie with a message and one with hope for better times, that in reality wouldn't come for the Afro-Americans until decades later.

Considering the fact that this movie didn't got made with the backing of studio's or big money spenders and experienced people within the business, the movie is all the more impressive to view. It's simple a well made and nicely constructed film, that keeps its story flowing really well at all times and keeps the movie a good and interesting one to watch.

A surprisingly good early 'blackcinema' movie.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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