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Militant Visions

Black Soldiers, Internationalism, and the Transformation of American Cinema

Elizabeth Reich (author)

ISBN: 9780813572581

Publication Date: Jun 2016

Format: Hardback

Also available as: Paperback  

Examines how, from the 1940s to the 1970s, the cinematic figure of the black soldier helped change the ways American moviegoers saw Black men, for the first time presenting African Americans as vital and integrated members of the nation. Elizabeth Reich traces the figure across a wide variety of movie genres, from action blockbusters to patriotic musicals.
£103.00

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When asked to name the first "militant" Black characters in film, we might imagine Blaxploitation heroes like Sweetback or Shaft. Yet, as this groundbreaking new book shows, there was a much earlier cycle of films featuring militant Black men - many of which were sponsored by the U.S. government.

Militant Visions examines how, from the 1940s to the 1970s, the cinematic figure of the black soldier helped change the ways American moviegoers saw Black men, for the first time presenting African Americans as vital and integrated members of the nation. Elizabeth Reich traces the figure across a wide variety of movie genres, from action blockbusters like Bataan to patriotic musicals like Stormy Weather. In the process, she reveals how the image of the proud and powerful African American serviceman was crafted by an unexpected alliance of government propagandists, civil rights activists, and Black filmmakers.

Offering a nuanced reading of a figure that was simultaneously conservative and radical, Reich considers how the cinematic Black soldier lent a human face to ongoing debates about racial integration, Black internationalism, and American militarism. She reads the Black soldier in film as inherently transnational, shaped by the displacements of diaspora, Third World revolutionary philosophy, and a legacy of Black artistry and performance. Militant Visions thus not only presents a new history of how American cinema represented race, it also demonstrates how film images helped to make history, shaping the progress of the civil rights movement itself.
Illustrations 7 photographs
Pages 192
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 Jun 2016
Publisher Rutgers University Press
Subject/s History of the Americas   Media studies   Black & Asian studies   Film theory & criticism   Ethnic studies   Military history  
Elizabeth Reich is an assistant professor of film studies at Connecticut College in New London, USA. She is the coeditor of Film Criticism's special issue on "New Approaches to Cinematic Identification".

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