Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist


Biography / Documentary

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 357

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
January 15, 2022 at 06:59 PM



Sidney Poitier as Narrator
Paul Robeson as Self
271.27 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
12 hr 29 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lee_eisenberg 10 / 10

one day we as a society will have to atone for what we did to Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson was one of the greatest singers of his time. He got famous from belting out "Ol' Man River" from "Show Boat". When he sang for the pro-democracy side of the Spanish Civil War, he changed the lyrics to reflect the fight for justice. Sure enough, when McCarthyism kicked in, Robeson was one of the prime targets. He spent a decade disappeared, so to speak.

Saul J. Turell's Academy Award-winning "Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist" looks at Robeson's career and activism. Narrated by Sidney Poitier, it starts with his 1920s stage work and goes up to the late '50s. Although Robeson got the last laugh, we as a society still haven't done enough to atone for ruining his life (and the lives of countless others). Excellent documentary.

In the Peekskill scene, I noticed that a shop appeared to say Stanley Tucci. I wonder if it had a connection to the actor's family.

Reviewed by tavm 9 / 10

Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist does some justice to the man

Having previously seen this short film about Paul Robeson's career during the late '80s on a VHS tape that also had The Emperor Jones on it, I just watched it again on a DVD disc from a set of selected films of Robeson. Sidney Poitier narrated about many of Paul's triumphs and trials. One of the most interesting of the chronicles was the differences between the original version of what would be his theme song, "Ol' Man River" and what it would become when taken out of the theatrical musical and '36 movie version. For instance, "N!ggers all work on the Mississippi" became "There's an old man called the Mississippi" by the time of the movie. When performing it in countries involved in conflict, "Get a little drunk and you land in jail" became "Show a little grit and you land in jail" and "I'm tired of livin' and scared of dyin'" became "We must keep fighting until we're dying". His performance in the play "Othello" is also discussed with film provided of an interview in which he discussed his interpretation of the role. Also, besides film of his concerts, are some of his movies shown in clips like Show Boat, his version of King Solomon's Mines, The Emperor Jones, and The Proud Valley. When some of his most outspoken political views became too much to bear, as evidenced by film footage of protests taking place at his concert in Peekskill in 1949, Robeson suddenly finds himself blacklisted which lasted most of the '50s. By the time it ended, he seemed broken but not completely defeated as evidenced by film of perhaps one of his last performances shown at the end. One hopes by the time he died in 1976, Paul Robeson didn't suffer too badly in his final days. Certainly in this day of Rap and Hip-Hop, one hopes some young people-especially those of his race-still have some appreciation for his music...

Reviewed by gbill-74877 8 / 10

Good introduction to a great man

"Most importantly, however, were the questions raised by the State Department as to my political opinions. Here is a question of whether one who wants to sing and act can have, as a citizen, political opinions. And, in attacking me, they suggested that when I was abroad, I spoke out against injustices to the Negro people in the United States. I certainly did. And the Supreme Court Justice just ruled, Judge Warren in the segregation cases, that world opinion had a lot to do with that ruling, that our children, negro children, can go to school like anybody else in the South. I'm very proud to have been a part of directing world opinion to precisely that condition."

I had goosebumps while watching much of this documentary short about Paul Robeson. It honors his life and his activism, and for that I give it a lot of credit. To hear him speak about his approach to playing Othello, to hear him sing 'Old Man River,' and to see his courage in the face of conservative backlash was inspiring. He was exceptionally intelligent and talented, and it's a shame that somewhat like Josephine Baker, he often had to leave America to be truly embraced.

As both a black man and a progressive to the point of strong communist sympathies, Robeson got a double dose of hatred upon returning to his country ("Go back to Russia, you n-word!"). The film broaches this but it was certainly a light treatment of the subject, steering clear of Robeson's actual beliefs, other than those involving Civil Rights. I think in that regard, it falls short, and perhaps it's because it was made when the Cold War was still active.

Regardless, to not comment at all on his anti-imperialist, pro-Union views, to not mention his outright praise of Stalin (argh) or his trips to the Soviet Union ("Here I am not a Negro but a human being for the first time in my life. I walk in full human dignity"), or include his stirring testimony in front of the HUAC was a mistake. Replying to Gordon Scherer, Republican Congressman from Ohio who asked him why he didn't stay in Russia, he said this: "Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country and I am going to stay here and have a part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear?" I mean, god damn, I love this man. I would love to someday see a full-length documentary or dramatization of his life, but am happy for the little sample this film provided.

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