The MichaelVox Movie Review Weblog
Proudly Spewing Unsolicited Film Opinion Online Since 1996
(How To Get The Man's Foot Outta Your Ass)
June 9, 2004
A father. A son. A revolution. -- BAADASSSSS!
Story of the making of Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song in 1971. Mario Van Peebles plays his own father who through sheer will completed the film on his own terms. Fascinating look into guerrilla filmmaking, writing bad checks, hiding from the unions. Creative and had a good 70s look.
Two things bothered me. Either the sound was terrible at my screening or it was purposely supposed to be muddy in a 70s way. It was hard to decipher the dialogue over the music.
A larger problem was the importance given to the 1971 film. I remember learning about it when I was learning about film, and I realize that it was important to black audiences and low-budget audiences alike. But this film makes it appear that had this film not opened and succeeded, at whatever low level, slavery might not have been abolished, there would still be two drinking fountains, and lynching would still take place. Plot-wise, the whole success of the film seems to hinge on a single Black Panther sitting in a single theater in downtown Detroit, who is so impressed with what he sees during a matinee, that he leaves early, tells his friends, and a near mob-scene develops five minutes before the evening showtime, with hundreds of people pushing to get in. I have a hard time believing that this one guy, who appears to have more power than Roger Ebert and Elvis Mitchell combined, could make or break any film playing in the Great Lakes region.
I'm sure this film means much more to people who had never seen their own lives represented on screen before. I was too young to know about it when it opened. And it's a dramatic version of events, not a documentary.