A Raisin in the Suni is nothing short of a masterpiece ; but before we discuss that let's spend some time on the circuitous path it took to reach this review.
The ocean bathing the Western shores of Costa Rica is a beast, mellifluous, belovable, utterly beastly beast of a beast. It steals things, too, like any great cat would do, thousand miles long or no. It stole Hannah's glasses, it stole my hat once, it tries to steal the car keys and everything, always. Besides, it is scary at times, and threatening (in a loving way) throughout, so I proposed mayhap offerings be made to appease it ? Hannah chose a raisin for the purpose, and when I asked why exactly she said that in being so dry it'd probably be its favourite treat -- everything we could offer anyway diminutive comparatively to its size, but the negative zest, the anti-ocean-ness manifest in the raisin's dessication perhaps apt to satisfy its appetites in quite a satisfying way!
This is why Iii double clicked on the item called "A Raisin in the Sun", this and no other reason caused its screening. Then I kept it going because... I don't know how to put this, but it is the only film with black people. At least the only one I know of, but in any case : yes I'm aware human beings coincidentally pigmented occasionally do ok as supporting cast in white people films. Occasionally they can almost pass for leading, with a lot of very careful construction, like that guy in Men in Black, or like Chris Rock in whatever that thing was called where he's a Central Park hustler that Whitey (I don't recall, was it "teh FBI" ?) decides he's absolutely and imprescindibly needed for whatever nonsensical purpose any of five thousand white boys'd have done just as good (in fact better) at. So yes, I understand white people setting themselves to making black people appear like actors can in general manage (just as they similarily manage to handpuppet females into seeming leadership, political craft, intellectual ability and whatnot).
The reason you're reading this review, however, and the reason what you're reading leads with "nothing short of a masterpiece" is that indeed A Raisin in the Sun transcends that kind of interest. Yes, it's nice to see blacks for once and of themselves being good actorsiii as opposed to being Dolemiteiv, and that'll keep the eye going ; but then the scene of the loss unfurls, and the mind, shocked, realises that this is indeed artistic expression of fundamental human experience in form so excellent as to require indexing!v
There's no possibility of escaping A Raisin in the Sun now, because every time I want to tell some objectionable nigger why exactly he's objectionable I can readily reference this great production of the human spirit!vi
Much like, Exactly like a discussion of some certain and specifically particular edge furl an' corner of human experience will require a reference to, say, The Pawnbroker, irrespective of how you feel about Jews, just so a different, another just as certain an' specifically particular instance of the self-same human experience will require a reference right here! There's no running away from this, moreover (as that old joke goesvii) there's no particular relation with race, meaning that one sufficiently dedicated to the arts and crafts of blindermaking could perhaps avoid "specifically Jewish" problems by, oh, I dunno, never ever handling real money, but one definitely can't similarly avoid all possible aspects of any conceivable discussion of poverty, try as they might.
Not seeing this film means missing out, and not because it's a film with blacks, but because it's a film with people. Some of them just happen to be acting (or screenwriting, or directing) very well, that's all.———
- 1961, by Daniel Petrie, with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Ann Wallace (Dee), Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon. [↩]
- Not technically accurate, I order slave labour about while laying down, but to keep the jists simple let's call my extensive empire "I". [↩]
- And they're good, God damned they're smoking good! I have no objections, they read right, they block right, Cum Laude graduates of any acting class I'd ever hold. [↩]
- Has anyone yet figured out why exactly the evil archnemesis black guy sitting in the back is sitting in the back of a car without back doors ?! Is this some new level of cool in "the black community", stepping over seats like kiddos ? [↩]
- It also managed to sidestep blocking itself, in the exquisite treatment of "white neighbourhood protection leagues" or whatever that was. I had a feeling quite explicitly ringing in my skull "oh, now I see, up to here it's all been bait, now we're about to switch to the '''activism''' side of the scam", but no. Not at all! [↩]
- Ruby Dee personally lived a somewhat similar story of loss, backing The Fight Never Ends, a 1947(48) short (1h4) thing actually released (Alexander Releasing Corp / Lenox) but nevertheless commercially unsuccessful enough I doubt anyone has ever seen it (certainly no box office data is available, perhaps owing to simple database collation -- movies grossing $0 were not recorded). It's hard to be rich being poor, what can I tell you.
PS. She's a terrible poet, too. [↩]
- "It's easy to forget just how much poverty there is in America, because poor people look just like black people." [↩]