Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

1971

Crime / Drama

0
IMDb Rating 5.5

Synopsis


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1.86G
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English
23.976 (23976/1000) FPS /
97 min
P/S 1 / 4
1.18G
1280x692
Normal
English
23.976 (23976/1000) FPS /
97 min
P/S 0 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by momohund 7

This movie, when first watched by people from my generation (Gen X), doesn't seem to be very coherent. Something strange and psychedelic from a weird era. However, if you watch this movie and then watch How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass, which is a movie about making Sweet Sweetback, you'll see why this was so damn revolutionary. This was the first time Black America told White America on screen that the days of "kissing up to Shirley Temple's ass" were over. It was a political movie about Black America and even Minority America being tired of whiteness, as well as stating that Black America now has its own identity and society. It took some pretty strong courage to make this move when you consider the time frame that it came out in; the early seventies, a period that saw a shift from "I have a dream" to "By any means necessary." I believe this film opened the doors to allow black artistic media to be critical about white America, society, politics and corruption that generally would have been censored before. Sometimes I wonder if this helped pave the way for people like Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and even Dave Chapelle. My father, a white man, told me that when he went to see this film back in 1971, the audience screamed and cheered during the opening scene when across the screen it read to "all the Brothers and Sisters who are tired of being held down by the Man." Nowadays people wouldn't really respond to that, not even black society I don't think, but back then it could have gotten you lynched, even in 1971. So when people screamed and cheered in the movie theater when they saw this, I think you can imagine how important a film like this must be in film history. No minority had ever dared to say that on the silver screen before.

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Reviewed by Brandt Sponseller 5

Considered the first blaxploitation film, Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baadasssss Song features Melvin Van Peebles (who also directed, wrote, produced, edited and did music for the film) as Sweetback, a Los Angeles-area &quot;male prostitute&quot;/&quot;sex performer&quot; (who only has relations with females). He agrees to be taken in to a police station as a suspect just to make a couple cops look good (because they are tolerant towards the cathouse he lives in). On the way, they pick up a Black Panther and start beating him senseless. Sweetback bludgeons and stabs the two cops with his handcuffs (one end is open) and the bulk of the film has him on the run. Can he make it to Mexico before he&#39;s caught? <br/><br/>Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baadasssss Song has a lot of historical significance. It is an early independent film in what&#39;s considered the current &quot;modern&quot; style, it is one of the earliest mostly black films of its era (there were all black films earlier, such as Oscar Micheaux&#39;s work, but they disappeared for awhile), it was controversial (it initially earned an X rating (later changed to an R) and touted that fact proudly as a tagline), it was made for $150 thousand but grossed $15 million, and most importantly perhaps for some film lovers, it is credited with starting the blaxploitation craze in the 1970s. It is worth watching for students of film on those merits alone.<br/><br/>But none of those facts alone make it a good film, and none affect my rating. In terms of quality, Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baadasssss Song gets my vaunted 5 out of 10 rating, which is usually reserved for &quot;so bad they&#39;re good&quot; films. Although it is loaded with flaws, as one might expect from a low budget film from the era shot guerilla-style on the streets of Los Angeles, it is a hoot to watch. On the weirdness scale, it definitely earns a 10.<br/><br/>Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baadasssss Song is firmly mired in the psychedelic era. Peebles gives us frequent shots with negative or false colors near the beginning of the film. More frequently, he directs scenes so they have various &quot;altered reality&quot; allusions--time stretching, repeating, stopping and stuttering, bizarre actions and reactions from various characters, rambling nonsense, and so on--which for the viewer approximate the perception of someone who is wasted almost to the point of passing out. These scenes often play like some kind of avant-garde performance art, and are as much a focus of the film as any of the usually cited &quot;political&quot; messages rooted in racially oriented turmoil and disparity. Perhaps the intended theme was that race relations, and the urban reality of blacks to that point were as bizarre as acid trips, some good, some bad.<br/><br/>The music is equally bizarre (which I love), with a recurrent jazz/funk piece with an almost atonal saxophone melody being the unifier. Some of the vocal music is a veritable Greek chorus, narrating action and emotions, providing critiques and so on. Peebles also frequently layers musical tracks, so two or more can be playing at once for a minute or two.<br/><br/>The film is also notable and admirable for its abundance of almost graphic sex scenes and gratuitous nudity. The opening scene is particularly groundbreaking and laudable. Throughout the film, Sweetback is an unstoppable stud, with almost any woman he desires dropping her drawers for him, even towards the end of the film, despite the fact that he has an oozing, infected sore running up the side of his body, not to mention that he&#39;s filthy, and he&#39;s been drinking mud and eating raw lizards. The ladies still find him hot enough to give him a poke in the bushes. We need much more of this kind of material in contemporary films.<br/><br/>At one point, Peebles and/or director of photography Robert Maxwell appear to have hit the streets of Los Angeles, filming people at random after they asked them if they&#39;ve seen Sweetback (the character). These shots are inserted into the extended chase scene near the end of the film (2/3 to 3/4 of the film is actually an extended chase scene). The effect is a lot of fun to watch--definitely guerilla film-making at its finest.<br/><br/>But the problems with the film are legion. Maxwell&#39;s camera frequently goes in and out of focus (being generous, we could interpret it with psychedelic intent, but I&#39;m skeptical). Night scenes (which are thankfully avoided for the most part) tend to be seas of blackness where a viewer can only occasionally make out enough of an image to piece together the scene in their mind. The sound is awful--I couldn&#39;t make out about half of the dialogue (at one point I thought &quot;this is more like watching a silent film&quot;), and it doesn&#39;t help that some characters &quot;jive talk&quot;; if ever a film needed subtitles, it&#39;s this one. The camera occasionally has a spot, a hair, or some other gunk on the lens. There isn&#39;t much to the story; after awhile, it starts to play more like an odd music video. A lot of shots--scenery, cityscapes, etc.--look like they may have been randomly taken by Peebles with his home camera with the hopes of one day using them in a film.<br/><br/>Still, for fans of weirdness and &quot;so bad they&#39;re good&quot; films, not to mention any blaxploitation fan with his or her weight in barbecued ribs, Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baadasssss Song is a must see. Make sure you also check out How to Get the Man&#39;s Foot Outta Your Ass (aka Baadasssss!), Peebles&#39; son Mario&#39;s 2003 film about Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baadasssss Song.

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Reviewed by morakanabad 7

This is a film that has several things going for it, none of them technical. The idea of shooting a movie with a largely black cast on dark streets at night without any sort of extra lighting is... well, a bad one, and coupled with its mic-in-the-cameraman&#39;s-back- pocket sound mix, an awful lot of the first half of the movie is just shy of being incomprehensible. Add in an editing job that suggests somebody was busy talking on the phone during the cutting of several key scenes, and you could have a real patience- tester of a film on your hands.<br/><br/> Thankfully, the mood of the film is positive enough that its deliriously illogical plot actually works in its favour. Greasy kid Mario van Peebles (minus the &quot;van&quot; here) is transformed into strapping man Melvin van Peebles in a meaningful encounter with a hooker, and you can buy it. On-the-lam hero Sweetback is challenged to a duel by bikers, and nobody so much as blinks when he suggests that it should be a duel of sexual prowess... hell, they don&#39;t even seem to care that he doesn&#39;t need to move in order to drive his women wild. He&#39;s even brought back from the dead by the chorused voices of The Black Community, and it all sort of makes sense, kind of.<br/><br/> In fact, it isn&#39;t until the very last shot of the movie, when you realize that 90 minutes and change have built up to... well, nothing much, really, except maybe a shred of belief in the power of an act of will, and perhaps the promise of a sequel, that you feel like taking the movie to task for its gaping technical flaws again. Even then, it&#39;s made so earnestly that I don&#39;t really have the heart to slag it for its ineptly-blocked camerawork and dreadful acting. I&#39;ve seen much worse from filmmakers who weren&#39;t trying to change the world by giving a damn, so instead I&#39;ll talk it up by calling it the spiritual ancestor of the basketball-teleportation ending to He Got Game, and pretty much everything in The Matrix, too. That it was largely the work of one hugely inspired guy makes it all the cooler, so struggling filmmakers, take note! As long as you crib your technique from other places, Sweet Sweetback&#39;s Baad Asssss Song should be an inspiration to you.

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