Fearful Symmetry

Film. Books. Comics. TV. Music.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

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This is pretty crazy. Hailed as the first Blaxploitation film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song stars Melvin Van Peebles who also wrote the script, directed, produced, edited and composed the music. I’ve been meaning to watch for some time after reading about it in some film book years ago. As a very low budget film it’s very rough around the edges and filled with sex and violence. Its running time is padded out by a lot of shots of Van Peebles just running and does not really have much in the way of plot development but if you can get past it shortfalls there is a real power and anger to it – it’s dedicated to all who have been oppressed by ‘the man’.

Sweetback is a gigolo, brought up in a brothel. In an opening, heavily cut, scene as a young boy he’s seduced by one of the prostitutes – his prowess earning him his nickname. He ends up on the run after beating up two police offers who have themselves beaten up a young man. That’s about it as far as plot goes – he gets help by several black ghetto characters and eventually some Hells Angels, whose female leader, Sweetback naturally seduces. With a few, exceptions, just about every white man he encounters – especially the police – is racist, symbolic of the time.

Unusually for a film of its type and time he finally gets away from the police and an on-screen caption warns that he will back. It’s a pity he never did return or that other films in its genre have half of much sheer raw power.


Written by Fearful Symmetry

June 28, 2009 at 9:59 pm

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