Wednesday, August 15, 2012
#372: Sanders of the River
Hooboy, this movie is R-A-C-I-S-T. I'm trying to imagine how Paul Robeson felt when he sat down to watch the cut of this movie and that first card came on the screen talking about the courageous British men who tamed the Africans. I would imagine he didn't feel too good.
Criterion calls this an embarrassment right in their description of the movie on their website. Technically speaking, it's far from the worst movie to sport a spine number in the Collection. But in terms of pure dated nationalistic and racial attitudes, it's pretty hard to beat - at least until Birth of a Nation and Broken Blossoms enter the Collection. (Okay, it's probably not THAT racist, but still, this is a pretty awkward watch.)
As you might have guessed from my posts so far, I'm really not enjoying this Robeson boxset. It's not that I don't like Robeson, it's just that the movies aren't very good and the general collection seems more interesting as a historical document than as a collection of works of art. That's certainly OK - there's a real and meaningful place for this kind of collection in a line like Criterion. But as a film lover, historical curiosity does not trump what's actually on the screen. Anyway, one more to go.