Down in the Delta (1998)
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I love how the story led up to Nathan. How the symbolism of the candelabra strengthened the family. This showed how Nathan -- the candelabrum -- indirectly and unsuspectingly filled the role that Nathan -- the man -- was not allowed to do. It was almost as though Jesse -- Nathan's son -- knew instinctively that this candelabrum would play an important role in his family for generations to come.
The actors did an excellent job -- particularly Alfre Woodard and Al Freeman, Jr. I love that everyone was a star -- yet no one was a star!
I highly resented that you couldn't find Down in the Delta in the movies anywhere. When it comes to black films, it seems the film industry would rather show negative black images and nonsensical movies for black audiences. I was very disappointed at the lack of availability of this very positive movie. I've only been to one movie since; and have no immediate desire to attend any others. Although I have 2 free passes in my mirror -- sent to me by one of the major theatres to pacify me when I complained about the lack of availability of this movie -- I don't want free tickets (that's why they're still in my mirror). I want freedom of choice -- of being able to see positive images of black people. Chances are you couldn't find "Down in the Delta" in the movies. I've purchased the DVD. I intend to purchase several more -- as well as the VHS -- to give to family members as gifts. I highly recommend this film!!
This movie brought home to me, as a white person, the destructiveness and family division inherent in slavery better than anything I have ever seen or read before. It showed a terrible dark part of slavery and the awful effect it had on families. The simple, yet very powerful, story of Nathan poignantly illustrated the loss of family and loved ones that was so much a part of slavery.
This is a movie about family that transcends race or color. All people can relate to the idea of how important family is from this movie.
I was able to view this movie with my wife and children and enjoy it without having to "cringe" because of sex, violence, or language. This shows that movies can be made that entertain and educate without being filled with gratuitous titillations.
Thank you for producing a wonderful movie that I will always remember. A movie about family and for family.
Mary Alice has become one of the great African American screen matriarchs now, possessing a vulnerable serenity in this role which underscores our hopes for the rebirth of the urban progeny at the core of this film.
Maya Angelou got up to directorial speed fairly quickly in this debut although some blocking and editing from early in the project (in opening scenes especially) are rough. She doesn't show a professional sense of timing in many of her edits and scene endings, but the heart she brings to her material more than compensates. And there are instances of excellent intercharacter cutting in scenes where it counts. It's fair to say that there's not a wasted scene anywhere in this film. It's equally fair to say that some scenes show more directorial finesse than others. Look for even greater work from this master poet.
The only disappointment is Stanley Clarke's score, an unfortunate embarrassment for Mr. Clarke who is an accomplished jazz bassist otherwise. His score shows little ability to become emotionally involved with dramatic material and no skill with scenic beats and transitions. Clarke had a major opportunity to deliver here and he blew it -- and this is truly a hard movie to screw up.
"Down in the Delta" is movie blessed with plenty of heart and a talented ensemble that delivers. Well worth two hours of your time.