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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Movie Review: Soundtrack for a Revolution

Soundtrack for a Revolution


Release Date: Special Screening on February 17th, 2009

Rated PG for violence

Running time: 82 minutes

Bill Guttenberg (dir.)

Dan Sturman (dir.)

Bill Guttenberg (writer)

Dan Sturman (writer)

Phil Marshall (music)

John Legend - performer

Wyclef Jean - performer

The Roots - performers

Joss Stone - Performer

The Blind Boys of Alabama - performers

Mary Mary - performers

Richie Havens - performer

Anthony Hamilton - performer

Angie Stone - performer

Soundtrack for a Revolution is playing tonight as part of the Doc Soup monthly screening series, at the Bloor Cinema. Tickets are just $12, and show times are at 6:30 PM and 9:15 PM. A limited number of free tickets will be available for the 9:15 PM showing, will be available to students with valid student ID. Go and see it.

Our reviews below:


Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Soundtrack for a Revolution is a brilliant, flawless and incredibly moving documentary about overcoming racial segregation in the 1950's and '60's. Set to an amazing soundtrack of freedom songs, the film, at times, plays like a music video.

In one of the films best sequences, we see pictures of all the arrested protesters as if we are looking through a yearbook. In one powerful scene, set to Richie Haven's cover of the song Will the Circle be Unbroken, we see pictures of people who were killed. With their faces, a subtitle tells us their cause of death.

The last image of the film is one of incredible power. Soundtrack for a Revolution delivers the same, raw emotional power that I felt while watching Trouble the Water. (Incidentally, one of the songs sung here, Wade in the Water, is the same song that gave that Oscar-nominated hurricane Katrina doc its name.)

This film gets 4 stars because it is a flawless, riveting, and powerful piece of contemporary documentary film making. Go and see it.


Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

One of the most powerful documentaries I've seen, Soundtrack for a Revolution chronicles an important part of history - that of the revolution led by Martin Luther King, and brought together through the power of music.

The historical footage coupled with interviews with some of those who took part in the revolution and performances of the 'freedom songs' make this film flow so well in telling it's historical account.

Though less so today, the amount of racism in the '50's and '60's in the USA was at an intolerable level. People were being killed in the streets for being the so-called 'wrong race', be them young or old. Child protesters were sprayed by fire hoses - water with enough power to throw them backwards, while the adults were beaten relentlessly. But still, the peaceful revolution they were staging pushed on, not resorting to violence themselves.

In one of the most powerful sequences in the film, is when the photos of some of those who were killed are shown on the screen, and when many of the survivors show their mug-shots, since the majority of them had been arrested for everything from sitting in a 'white' chair at a restaurant, to stepping somehow 'out of line'.

Words cannot quite describe this film, and I urge you to see it yourself. It is a very well put together piece of work, and an important film to seek out.


Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Nicole

**** (out of four)

Soundtrack for a Revolution tells the fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes heartbreaking story of Martin Luther King Jr., and the American civil rights movement. What makes this documentary unique is that the interviews with some of the civil rights leaders, as well as historical footage, is spliced with classic spirituals such as "Wade in the Water" and "This Little Light of Mine". These spirituals, as well as many written for the civil rights movement, inspired both African American and white people to lead peaceful marches and protests in the quest to break down barriers that were solely based on skin colour.

Soundtrack for a Revolution is an excellent documentary, especially during black history month. This documentary would also be a good choice to show in schools.


Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

The power of music to change mind and move souls is well known. Soundtrack for a Revolution highlights the music and songs that played a big role in the black civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

The powerful documentary combines original black and white news footage, present day interviews with activist of that time, and footage of musicians such as The Blind Boys of Alabama, John Legend and many more performing freedom songs. Hearing songs such as “This Little Light of Mine”, “Wade in the Water” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” in the context of the civil rights movement is powerful and emotional.

Soundtrack for a Revolution at 82 minutes is a very watchable documentary about this important period in history. With February being Black History Month, it is worth attending a special screening of Soundtrack for a Revolution happening now.


Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Soundtrack for a Revolution is a documentary on the U.S. civil rights movement and the music that inspired those who participated in it. Narrated by the survivors, seen as they were then in mainly black and white news clips as well as now, it is accompanied by mainly new performances of the spiritual, gospel and folk songs that were always on the lips of the demonstrators.

Those of us who grew up in the period, and certainly younger people with no memory of the struggle, need to be reminded how scarcely one generation ago in the southern U.S. and even more recently in South Africa, it was taken for granted that people of black African ancestry needed by law to be kept apart from whites. Just how brutally these laws were enforced, and nonviolently resisted, is brought home once again in this film. Segregated buses, used mainly by blacks in the age of the automobile, were boycotted. Blacks would fill the white only seats in restaurants, singing all the while as they were dragged out. Some of the now elderly protesters pose proudly with their mug shots, while those of others are shown with captions about their deaths by lynching, beating, bombing, drowning, gunshot, etc. When hundreds of children joined the demonstrations, they were pushed back by fire hoses.

The bigoted opinions of ordinary whites and politicians such as Alabama governor George Wallace are contrasted with the stirring oratory of leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King preaching the doctrine of nonviolent struggle. The tide turned with the march on Washington, where the support of millions of Americans was too much to ignore, and when president L.B. Johnson announced “We shall overcome” the war seemed won. However in 1968 the foreboding of King’s final speech was followed the next day by his assassination. The final image, meant to show how far we have come, is from the 2009 inauguration.

As far as it goes, Soundtrack for a Revolution is a good overview of the civil rights movement up to 1968, and a stirring tribute to the role of music in nonviolent struggle. The intervening 40 years, including setbacks starting with the 1968 riots, are not mentioned. It is interesting for example how quickly attitudes have changed overall, with isolated exceptions as seen in such recent films as Liberty U.S.A. and Prom Night in Mississippi. Once forced to desegregate, George Wallace spent the rest of his life trying his best to make life as good for the blacks as he had all along for the whites. Ironically, it has just been revealed that the glass ceiling preventing air force women from becoming pilots was due to president Johnson’s reluctance to allow black pilots either.


Consensus: Soundtrack for a Revolution is a well made and very interesting documentary about overcoming segregation. The film is set to an amazing soundtrack of "freedom songs". This is one worth seeing. ***3/4 (Out of 4)

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