Sunday, April 13, 2008

"He grew up in a time when it was believed you couldn't spell if you were Black, and he challenged that myth" :: Oscar Micheaux links, YouTube clips

Oscar Micheaux has more claim to the title of being the Godfather of American Indie Film than John Cassavetes - in my opinion - since Micheaux had no choice but to work outside of Hollywood in both production & distribution, due to the racism & segregation of his time, & even with those significant limitations he built a decades spanning career (1919 - 1948)/created at least 33 films. Here's an interview about Micheaux at, with Patrick McGilligan - author of Oscar Micheaux: The Great & Only - The Life of America's First Black Filmmaker. From the interview:

"Do enough of Micheaux’s films survive to give us an accurate sense of his ability as a director? Is there anyone in mainstream Hollywood you might compare him to?

Only about one third of Micheaux’s nearly four dozen films survive, and those that do survive exist in truncated form, largely because Micheaux could not afford to manufacture numerous prints of his films, and the handful that circulated were diminished by censorship and by usage. His first heyday was the silent era, and those films are the rarest. However, two of his most famous silent pictures survive in fair condition: The Symbol of the Unconquered, from 1920, and Body and Soul, from 1925, the first motion picture to star Paul Robeson. Judging these two films on content and style, they are indeed stellar works. Content-wise because they depict black America at a time when Hollywood didn’t have a clue, and because they touch on important racially-sensitive issues—from Southern peonage and lynching to religious hypocrisy and miscegenation. Style-wise, in spite of low-budget limitations, they are very sophisticated films, showing the influences of both German Expressionist and Soviet editing ideas."

Read the rest here.


Check out the YouTube clips of a doc called Oscar Micheaux and Race Movies. The quote I used at the title of this post comes from clip #3.

- Sujewa

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