There’s been a lot of chatter about the movie Django and how it touches upon slavery and the resistance to it..Lots of debates have sparked off talking about what’s accurate, what’s fantasy etc etc.. I say use this excitement around Django and the hype machine that director Quentin Tarantino has around him to turn folks onto other projects they may have overlooked, forgotten about or not seen at all..It doesn’t have to be an either or thing.. See ‘m all.. Contrast, compare and build..
A self-absorbed Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Africa is spiritually transported back to a plantation in the West Indies where she experiences first-hand the physical and psychic horrors of chattel slavery, and eventually the redemptive power of community and rebellion as she becomes a member of a freedom-seeking Maroon colony
There have been some who upon seeing the release of Django and its popularity have referenced Sankofa and asked why we didn’t support the painstaking efforts of film makers like Gerima who tried to give the Black community serious information about an institution that is constantly being written out or sanitized in our history books..
If you can’t rent the film here’s one of several copies on line..
Another film which is often mentioned is Spook Who Sat By the Door..by Sam Greenlee. It’s a landmark film that came out in the early 70s and was based upon a book with the same titled which was released in 1969. Although this film isn’t about slavery, it’s about rebellion and fighting oppression which is whats attracting many to Django.
The plot of Spook Who Sat by the Door goes as follows.. The CIA because of politics needs to recruit African-Americans to the agency. It’s supposed to be dog and pony show. In other words have Blacks try out for the agency, make it public, but have them fail. However, there was one guy, named Dan Freeman who played the role of an ‘Uncle Tom’ when in real life he was a Black nationalist.. He gets into the CIA, soaks up all their game and then leads an armed rebellion..This fim was so controversial, that it was banned from movie theaters and was hard to get up until recently..
According to Greenlee almost everyone involved in that film from the director Ivan Dixon on down to lead actor Lawrence Cook found themselves outcasted in many Hollywood circles. Cook wouldn’t appear in a major film for almost 20 years after Spook Who sat by the Door.
You can peep the movie here…
Another flick building on the Slave revolt theme is the Legend of Nigger Charley and Soul of Nigger Charley featuring Fred Williamson. It focuses on a trio of escaped slaves who are down to fight and win against white oppressors.. Believe it or not when these films came out there were posters all over subways in NYC advertising the film. The N word was not covered or changed.. It was very much in your face.. Legend of Nigger Charley went on to be Paramount pictures highest grossing film in 1972 when it was released.