A documentary that tracks five years and three generations of a Chicago family's life in public housing. The murder of a family member has an immediate impact, but eventually changes them toward a more positive outlook on life in the end.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Alaissa Collins ...
Herself
Marquis Collins ...
Himself
Nickcole Collins ...
Narrator
Terrell Collins ...
Himself (archive footage)
Wanda Collins ...
Herself
Dorothy Jackson ...
Herself
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A documentary that tracks five years and three generations of a Chicago family's life in public housing. The murder of a family member has an immediate impact, but eventually changes them toward a more positive outlook on life in the end.

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Documentary

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1 February 2000 (USA)  »

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I klironomia  »

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Compelling story, clumsily told
18 March 2009 | by (Nashville, TN) – See all my reviews

Legacy is a film about...well, I'm not sure, actually. It's about a lot of things - maybe too many things. That seems to be its major flaw. It's about a teenage girl battling her way out of the projects - or so we're led to believe. Nickcole Collins serves as the film's narrator, and we assume the story will be told from her point of view. That isn't necessarily the case. We're led on a journey that takes many deviations and detours. We learn about the history of poverty and hardship from which Nickcole is attempting to distance herself, but about halfway through the film, the filmmakers seem to get sidetracked with the more sensational stories of Nickcole's relatives - her down-trodden mother, unable to free herself from the mental bonds of poverty - her drug-addicted aunt - attempting to carve out a life for herself after years of 'dropping out' of life - and her long-suffering grandmother, who has been there to pick up the pieces of her children's self-destructive choices.

These are all very interesting stories in their own right, but after a point, I started to wonder what had become of Nickcole. We're briefly made aware of her progress, and are matter-of-factly told that she's made a major life decision - but we're not there to witness any of it. This is the danger of attempting to cover too much ground as a filmmaker - particularly when you're working with a limited budget. Lending obviously could not be in more than one place at a time, and it shows. For extended periods throughout the movie, we're left wondering what became of its principal subject.

There were also several editing decisions that I did not quite understand. At one point, we watch Nickcole's aunt grooming herself in the mirror before an important event, and rather than cutaway to still photos (a technique skillfully employed throughout the film), we find ourselves getting an impromptu behind-the-scenes look at one of the cinematographers - clearly seen in the mirror's reflection. This shot doesn't just last a split second - we can see the cameraman struggling to angle the camera in such a way that he cannot be seen by the viewer. This goes on for far too long. Why not find some creative way to conceal this botched shot while leaving the audio intact? Cleaning up that shot, and a few others, would have taken nothing more than time, effort and creativity.

That said, I truly enjoyed the subject matter. I found the stories depicted here rich and compelling. Each of them would have made for a great subject in their own right. In the end, this is a film that might have left a greater legacy in the hands of a more skilled filmmaker.


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