• Film

James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket


Time Out says

Born in Harlem in 1924, a preacher's son, Baldwin was himself a boy preacher. In some ways the vocation stuck through his life. Thorsen's non-narrated documentary mixes footage covering his speeches, interviews, lectures; extracts from TV plays; testimony from friends, family, pupils, colleagues; and Maya Angelou reading from his letters and books. A powerful portrait emerges of a fighter, idealist, teacher and liberal-baiter; a man whose anger grew in the face of ignorant interviewers. His long search for self and his education into the politics of race, equality and revolution fascinate: from his flight in '48 from a suffocating America to hyperventilation in Paris; his support of Algerians ('Paris's niggers'); writing Go Tell It on the Mountain in a Swiss village (where, the visual antithesis of all he surveyed, he was a friend to every child); coming out with the publication of Giovanni's Room; further flight to Turkey; Eldridge Cleaver's vicious attack on him as a traitor to macho Black politics; and the deaths of King, Malcolm X, JFK. Deeply moving, educational and engaging though the film is, the man's lovers are conspicuously absent. Which of these talking heads were they? Were they white? Did that matter to him? At 87 minutes, this is tantalising proof that less is not always more.

Release Details

  • Duration:87 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Karen Thorsen
  • Screenwriter:Karen Thorsen, Douglas K Dempsey
  • Cast:
    • James Baldwin
    • Maya Angelou
    • Amiri Baraka Leroi Jones
    • David Baldwin
    • William Styron
    • Bobby Short
    • David Leeming
    • Lucien Happersberger
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