Within Our Gates (1920)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
Made especially for African American audiences and directed by Oscar Micheaux, this silent drama chronicles the courage of a Southern black woman who is so determined to create a school for needy children that she bravely heads North in order to find funding.
as Sylvia Landry
as Alma Prichard
as Conrad Drebert
as Larry Prichard
as Det. Philip Gentry
as Dr. Vivian
as Geraldine Stratton
as Jasper Landry
as Philip Gridlestone
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Critic Reviews for Within Our Gates
Though the narrative structure is somewhat choppy, director Oscar Micheaux otherwise demonstrates mastery of the silent form, using supple compositions and careful editing to amplify the characters' emotions in a manner that makes sound seem superfluous.
Within Our Gates is full of surprises, following a multitude of characters and plotlines without settling into predictable allegiances.
Audience Reviews for Within Our Gates
This is a film that will forever be famous for the fact that it is the oldest surviving film directed by an African American. It will forever be shown in retrospectives of African American cinema and as a counterpoint to D.W. Griffen?s The Birth of a Nation. It is probably destined to be more of a historical artifact than as a work of art, but is that such a bad thing? I?ve always been fascinated by history and seeing this film?s context is more than interesting enough to justify a two hour watch. But all this isn?t to say that this is a bad movie in and of itself. It?s a perfectly competent movie from a filmmaking perspective, and while the story is a bit preachy I think that?s probably fair enough, when you?re fighting against the likes of The Birth of a Nation you sort of need to shout.
Oscar Micheaux's "Within Our Gates" might introduce too many characters in its short running time, but this masterful work addresses character psychology and larger social issues in such a provocative way. Film's use of editing to visualize interiority is inspired, offering rich insights into complex characters. Micheaux isn't content to simply focus on racism on an individual level, also tackling important systemic problems.
While cleaning my DVR I came across this. OK, I knew it was there, but whatever. I laughed when Efren or whatever his name was got lynched, because I'm a noticeably bad person, but then I cried at the end because the horrible picture quality mixed with black and white strained my eyes a lot.
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