Seven years ago I took my eight year old daughter to see a movie called 42. This was the number Dodger legend Jackie Robinson wore on his jersey (and nobody has worn it since). Silanchi's mother and I, in our unsuspecting white way, had pondered restlessly and anxiously about when it made sense as parents to pull back the curtains of America's racist past for our young black daughter. With a bit of luck, 42 turned out to be a good choice. It was a heroic story that all in all resembled a happy ending, without glossing over the past or present. It gradually took us to conversations that had to take place in our family, and at the center was a really brave and larger-than-life figure who, just because of his existence, started a line of activist-athletes, which included Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick.
If the right movie was 42, Chadwick Boseman was the right actor because, like Robinson himself, Boseman's portrayal was so skillful in guiding the needle between stoic resistance to injustice and persistent non-calm. Boseman stayed the right actor until he died last Friday at the age of 43 on Jackie Robinson Day.
Only in the public mass consciousness, a little over a handful years, was Boseman possibly horrified by the nerve his death touched and the very real sadness and dismay it evoked. It was in keeping with the demeanor and self-possession that Boseman had conveyed as Robinson and as a young future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall that the actor committed his death both in sight and in private, regardless of the whispers of the past few months that something was wrong. While the adjectives praising Boseman, the man, and the movie star were apt – elegant, dignified, graceful – we hope the scope of its brilliance is not lost in all the ascribed grandeur: it's another token of the whims of the Life given in the year. The Donors were so obsessed with Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything that the best performance was Boseman's flamboyant and kinetic twist as James Brown in Get on Up.
Chadwick Boseman rests in power, his career is a nova wiped out on the dark side of the moon where the rest of us feel like we are living in these days.
And then there was the Black Panther. When they arrived in Charlottesville six months after the white supremacist torchlight parades, it had all the more impact on the government of a president who reluctantly denounced the "very fine" fascists who run over peaceful demonstrators.
Black Panther spearheaded an emerging African American cinema that testified to black empowerment. With a project going around Hollywood for as long as Black Panther (a couple of decades) it's hard to tell how random its timing is and how much it's a totem of the zeitgeist, but Black Panther became a grail among black filmmakers. Benefit not only from the determination but also from the coherence of a moment when the film felt it was necessary. With the contributions of Lupita Nyong & # 39; o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Kendrick Lamar, Ryan Coogler, Hanna Beachler and Ta-Nehisi Coates, black art and black vision reached one in Black Panther critical mass. and in the lead role, Boseman became the face of the moment carefully selected from over two dozen other contenders.
Black Panther would have represented something monumental anywhere on a culture's timeline, but in an American empire spearheaded by a bloated, lemony-tinged reality TV disapproval, it was all the greater. It still feels inevitable that an answer called Snow Leopard about Dinesh D’Souza or Steve Bannon in his jail cell gets on racist websites like Stormfront.
I have no question that in 20 years, assuming we're all still here, we'll look back on Black Panther as the most important film of the decade. Furthermore, we will look back on it as America's most American film worth believing in, and it is impossible to imagine anyone other than Boseman from Wakanda bringing to America the same combination of chops and star power, charisma and gravitas . Size and fascination that helped carry both the film and responsibility for its impact.
Resting in power, Chadwick Boseman is a nova wiped out on the dark side of the moon where the rest of us feel like we are living in these days. You don't come too early anymore.
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