Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hallelujah! (1929)

King Vidor was ready to make a talkie. For his first attempt, he attempted something novel: a musical with an all-black cast. What he created is nothing short of a masterpiece. Thanks to the early Vitaphone system (which synched film with sound disks, rather than the sound being directly on the film), he achieves probably the best early talkie I've ever seen. Instead of being creaky and stagnant it bursts with life. From the first shots of the people in the fields to the last happy notes Zeke sings, it is natural, fluid, and moving in every sense of the word. Sure, the synch-up isn't perfect, but you won't even notice, not with such touching performances by Daniel L Haynes and the luminous Nina Mae McKinney.

There is a disclaimer at the beginning; WB doesn't want to be seen as propagating racism. Although many of the depictions are dated stereotypes, what this picture has is a very human story, one for all of us: we all have fallen, and we all have fought our way back from adversity. This is what sticks with you, and what deserves watching.

I give this one:

1 comment:

Juliette. said...

Terrific-- sounds like one that is not to be missed.