Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World

by Wil Haygood
Setting: United States
Genres: 20th Century
Length: 17:36
Published on October 19, 2021
Pages: 464
Source: Library

"At once a film book, a history book, and a civil rights book.... Without a doubt, not only the very best film book [but] also one of the best books of the year in any genre. An absolutely essential read." --Shondaland
This unprecedented history of Black cinema examines 100 years of Black movies--from Gone with the Wind to Blaxploitation films to Black Panther--using the struggles and triumphs of the artists, and the films themselves, as a prism to explore Black culture, civil rights, and racism in America. From the acclaimed author of The Butler and Showdown.
Beginning in 1915 with D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation--which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and became Hollywood's first blockbuster--Wil Haygood gives us an incisive, fascinating, little-known history, spanning more than a century, of Black artists in the film business, on-screen and behind the scenes.
He makes clear the effects of changing social realities and events on the business of making movies and on what was represented on the screen: from Jim Crow and segregation to white flight and interracial relationships, from the assassination of Malcolm X, to the O. J. Simpson trial, to the Black Lives Matter movement. He considers the films themselves--including Imitation of Life, Gone with the Wind, Porgy and Bess, the Blaxploitation films of the seventies, Do The Right Thing, 12 Years a Slave, and Black Panther. And he brings to new light the careers and significance of a wide range of historic and contemporary figures: Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Berry Gordy, Alex Haley, Spike Lee, Billy Dee Willliams, Richard Pryor, Halle Berry, Ava DuVernay, and Jordan Peele, among many others.
An important, timely book, Colorization gives us both an unprecedented history of Black cinema and a groundbreaking perspective on racism in modern America.

This book was amazing. I thought I knew a lot about the history of film but I learned from this book. This is a good topic to visit this time of year when the award shows roll around and showcase the lack of appreciation for Black actors, directors, and crew.

This book starts with Birth of a Nation, which was propaganda that influenced generations of white people to think of Black men as monsters who want to prey on white women. It covers the alternate cinema house circuits that Black film makers and businesspeople opened to get around the segregation of movie houses. In each era, the author pans out to show the surrounding current events and political climates that influenced what movies were being made.

The audiobook is long – over 17 hours – but it was so interesting that I didn’t feel it dragging.

This is an in depth look at U.S. history as it relates to films. It would be great for anyone who enjoys history and movies and how they influence each other. It will also leave you with a list of films that you really ought to try to see.