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Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979)

An examination of the life of actor and singer Paul Robeson, from his first major triumphs on the stage in the 1920s through his gradually increasing social activism in the 1930s and 1940s,... See full summary »

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An examination of the life of actor and singer Paul Robeson, from his first major triumphs on the stage in the 1920s through his gradually increasing social activism in the 1930s and 1940s, leading to his controversial performances in Eastern Europe in the 1940s in which he performed communist anthems and criticized American social conditions. Written by scgary66

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October 1979 (USA)  »

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Paul Robeson: A Film Tribute  »

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A bit too short considering how incredibly complex this man was...
18 August 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This is a short biographical tribute to Paul Robeson and is narrated by Sidney Poitier. It's included as a special feature on a collection of Robeson films by Criterion and can be found on disk 1.

While I enjoyed "Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist", I couldn't help that any film about this remarkable man cannot adequately sum him up in under 30 minutes! As a result MANY important aspects of his life were omitted--such as his life apart from his singing and acting career. In particular his earlier years (which are amazing) are not mentioned--such as graduating at the top of his class at Rutgers (and in 1919, this was even more AMAZING considering the status of Blacks at the time), being an All-American football player and graduating from Columbia Law School!!! For ANYONE (not just black), these are incredible accomplishments and it seems sad not to even mention them.

As far as what is in the film goes, it's a nice overview of his stage and acting careers. It was also good to see that the film focused on when Robeson lost favor in America as a result of his political beliefs (and considering how badly Black-Americans were being treated, it's certainly understandable how he became more radicalized). This is all explored through Poitier's narration as well as archival footage and recordings of Robeson. Unfortunately, no others are on hand to contribute their insights or recollections of the man.

Overall, it's a good film but way too short. For someone not acquainted with him or who only want to learn about a narrow aspect of his life, then this is great. But it just needed to be at least 1-2 hours to adequately discuss his amazingly full life.


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