Sunday, September 30, 2012

#371: Body and Soul

(Oscar Micheaux, 1925)

Body and Soul is not a very good movie. Like the other spine-numbered films in the Robeson boxset, it makes for a much more interesting historical artifact than movie. Apart from the subpar filmmaking and ham-fisted plot twists, the movie's attitude towards race (despite the fact that it was created by black people for black people) is often hard to stomach. Watching black people in black face is not my favorite thing to do.

What sets Body and Soul apart from the other films from this set that I've watched is the superb modern jazz score that was created a few years ago. It's great, and got me much more into this movie that I ever otherwise would have been. Nothing here is especially intriguing in terms of race politics. But as the only "race film" in the collection, its inclusion is welcomed, even necessary, and Robeson - in his debut - was already a powerful presence. I watched this online, so I didn't have access to Borderline, but I'm definitely much more interested in seeing that film, so I'll have to track it down.

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