All-American athlete, scholar, renowned baritone, stage actor, and social activist, Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was a towering figure and a trailblazer many times over. He was perhaps most groundbreaking, however, in the medium of film. The son of an escaped slave, Robeson managed to become a top-billed movie star during the time of Jim Crow America, headlining everything from fellow pioneer Oscar Micheaux's silent drama Body and Soul to British studio showcases to socially engaged documentaries, all the while striving to project positive images of black characters. Increasingly politically minded, Robeson eventually left movies behind, using his international celebrity to speak for those denied their civil liberties around the world and ultimately becoming a victim of ideological persecution himself. But his film legacy lives on and continues to speak eloquently of the long and difficult journey of a courageous and outspoken African-American.
Box Set: The following DVDs are included in this set:
Audio commentaries by historians Jeffrey C. Stewart (The Emperor Jones) and Pearl Bowser (Body and Soul)
Musical scores by Wycliffe Gordon (Body and Soul) and Courtney Pine (Borderline)
1958 Pacifica Radio interview with Paul Robeson (Courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives)
Four new video programs featuring interviews with actors Ruby Dee and James Earl Jones, filmmaker William Greaves, cinematographer Tom Hurwitz, film historians Ian Christie and Stephen Bourne, and Paul Robeson Jr., and including film clips from Song of Freedom (1936), King Solomon's Mines (1937), and Big Fella (1938)