|THE BLACK PANTHERS: THE VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION (director/writer: Stanley Nelson; cinematographers: Antonio Rossi, Rick Butler; editor: Aljernon Tunsil; music: Tom Phillips; cast: Jamal Joseph, Kathleen Cleaver, William Calhoun, Ericka Huggins, Wayne Pharr, Emory Douglas, Elaine Brown, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, Julian Bond, Mark Kurlansky, Marvin X, Rita Williams-Garcia, Jim Dunbar, Lise Parlman, Jeff Hass, M. Wesley Swearingen, Clayborne Carson, Scot Brown, Donna Murch, Felipe Luciano, Ray Gaul, Ron McCarthy, Pat McKinley, Howard Saffold; Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Stanley Nelson, Laurens Grant; Firelight Films; 2015)|
still a crisis in black-white relations,
which makes this film timely."
by Dennis Schwartz
documentarian Stanley Nelson ("Freedom
Riders"/"Freedom Summers"/"When I Walk") on the 50th
anniversary of the civil rights movement explores the
most controversial activist group, the militant Blank
Panthers. He chronicles its violent
history in a no-nonsense vanilla way, that will air
soon on PBS.
Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther
Party — named after the panther who will back away
when threatened, but attack when cornered — in
Oakland, California. It was formed in response to the
black community feeling they were constantly harassed
by the local police. They made their stand as
an armed paramilitaristic unit, which had the effect
of slowing down the police attacks on black citizens
by their intimidating presence. Their militant
attitude and flashy dress —
Afros, leather jackets, shades and black
turtlenecks — empowered them with a fierce
radical chic loo and get them plenty of media
grassroots organization pledged to upgrade
education, support medical clinics, free-breakfast
programs and improve living conditions for blacks.
But is still best known as a revolutionary group
threatening to destroy America.
compelling earnest film, researched for seven
years, brings to the table unseen archival
footage, many talking head interviews that range
from comical to educational, and it adequately
cover the party's rise and fall. Its centerpiece is the reconstruction of the 1969
murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton—called
out as a political assassination carried out
by cops in a predawn Chicago raid.
interesting to note that Seale was not interviewed
for the film.
still a crisis in black-white relations, which
makes this film timely. But if one is trying to
rationally come to terms with the country's still
wide gap in views between the races, this doc
offers no solutions.
REVIEWED ON 11/22/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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