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Militant Visions : Black Soldiers, Internationalism, and the Transformation of American Cinema
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When asked to name the first “militant” Black characters in film, we might imagine Blaxploitation heroes like Sweetback or Shaft. Yet, as this groundbreaking new book shows, there was a much earlier cycle of films featuring militant Black men—many of which were sponsored by the U.S. government.
Militant Visions examines how, from the 1940s to the 1970s, the cinematic figure of the black soldier helped change the ways American moviegoers saw black men, for the first time presenting African Americans as vital and integrated members of the nation. Elizabeth Reich traces the figure across a wide variety of movie genres, from action blockbusters likeBataan to patriotic musicals like Stormy Weather. In the process, she reveals how the image of the proud and powerful African American serviceman was crafted by an unexpected alliance of government propagandists, civil rights activists, and Black filmmakers.
Offering a nuanced reading of a figure that was simultaneously conservative and radical, Reich considers how the cinematic Black soldier lent a human face to ongoing debates about racial integration, Black internationalism, and American militarism. She reads the Black soldier in film as inherently transnational, shaped by the displacements of diaspora, Third World revolutionary philosophy, and a legacy of Black artistry and performance.Militant Visions thus not only presents a new history of how American cinema represented race, it also demonstrates how film images helped to make history, shaping the progress of the civil rights movement itself.
Number of Pages: 270
Genre: Performing Arts, Social Science, History
Publisher: Rutgers Univ Pr
Author: Elizabeth Reich
Street Date: July 29, 2016
Item Number (DPCI): 248-20-8817