Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weekend African American Cinema Suggestion: The River Niger

Okay, last week’s movie recommendation, Mandingo, was a little heavy. So, this week I’m going to bring it down a bit with a film I know everyone will absolutely love, The River Niger.

This 1976 film is an adaption of the Joseph A. Walker play of the same name. It stars some pretty big names—James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, and Louis Gossett, Jr. to name a few—plus some lesser thespians who you will readily recognize.

I spent quite a bit of time searching for trailer but to no avail. However, I will include this short synopsis taken from Internet Movie Database (IMDb):

“An intimate look at life in the ghetto: Johnny Williams is a house painter who moonlights as a poet, struggling to financially and emotionally support his cancer-ridden wife Mattie. But times are tough and the poverty-troubled streets are even tougher, and it takes every ounce of Johnny's love and courage for the couple to make it through their strife, finding redemption in the River Niger."

However, this synopsis does not do the movie justice. The movie culminates with Johnny Williams, the character played by James Earl Jones, reciting the poem “The River Niger,” a poem the character composes in fits and starts throughout the film and in which the words act as a very apt metaphor for those struggling to overcome. To say that this is perhaps one of the most touching cinematic moments I have ever witnessed is an understatement.

But you’ll have to see the movie to find out for yourself. Pick yourself up a copy somewhere. I picked up a couple copies on sale at Walmart not too long ago so that I might show the film to my classes.


williedynamite said...

Thanks for the tip I'll have to try and find it.

msladyDeborah said...

Now this is truly a back in the day film. I haven't seen this movie in a looong time. But, this weekend is all about jazz and ribs in my hometown. I'll have to keep in mind for another day and time.

joe said...

I heard about this movie, but never saw it.
I wish I had something more to add here...

joe said...

.. but I don't mind just hanging out, if that's okay..

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