Sounder

Conscientiously made, with a script by a well-known black playwright and small parts filled in by locals, this attempts to go some way beyond the merely nostalgic in its recreation of the life of a black sharecropper's family during the Depression. Beneath the apparent resignation of the characters, there lurks a determination to beat the life they've been forced into. It even points, through the boys' discovery of an all-black school which teaches black history and black pride, to a militant future. But if you compare Ritt's film to Third World movies about oppressed people living in startlingly similar conditions, you notice what's missing: the feeling of bone-edge existence and incipient anger. Those films serve an immediate function, to change the lives of the people they're made about and for; Ritt's film must respond to the needs of an entertainment industry, and in its desire to be uplifting, leaves its characters one-dimensional without ensuring that the one dimension is heroic.

Release details

Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Martin Ritt
Screenwriter: Lonne Elder III
Cast: Cicely Tyson
Paul Winfield
Kevin Hooks
Carmen Mathews
Taj Mahal
James Best
Yvonne Jarrell
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