Melvin Van Peebles. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. 1971

Melvin Van Peebles Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song 1971

  • Not on view

It would be difficult to underestimate Melvin Van Peebles's achievement in producing, directing, writing, scoring, and starring in this film, not to mention financing it with the salary he had earned while directing Watermelon Man (1970). Not since Oscar Micheaux had an African American filmmaker taken such complete control of the creative process, turning out a work so deeply connected to his own personal and cultural reality that he was not surprised when the white critical establishment professed bewilderment upon its release in 1971. Filled with enough sex, rage, and violence to earn it an X rating, the success of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song depends less on its story of a superstud running from the police than it does on its disinterest in referencing white culture and its radically new understanding of how style and substance inform each other.

Publication excerpt from In Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of the Museum of Modern Art by Steven Higgins, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006, p. 254.
35mm film (color, sound)
Purchase from Direct Cinema Limited, 1993. Restored from original materials on loan from the artist, with funding from The Film Foundation and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Object number

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