American Masters: Season 13, Episode 3

Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (24 Feb. 1999)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
7.6
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Title: Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (24 Feb 1999)

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Tony Benn ...
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Stephen Bourne ...
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Martin Duberman ...
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Eslanda Robeson (voice)
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Paul Robeson Jr. ...
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Comprehensive Documentary
8 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Paul Robeson: Here I Stand" is a two hour and seven minute biography, featuring rare, compiled newsreel footage mixed with live interviews.

The documentary does a fine job of summarizing an amazing life and career of a supremely gifted lawyer, athlete, singer, actor, and socio-politicial activist.

Above all, Robeson's humanitarian quest emerges clearly, first being widely lauded, then vilified, then embraced again.

Such notables as Harry Belafonte and Uta Hagen share their impressions and personal experiences with Robeson, and the subject's own voice is heard explaining his position on his beliefs and actions.

Everywhere the press was on his tail, sometimes reporting accurately, sometimes inaccurately--but always there was a towering, powerful presence at the center. This bio gives due time to Robeson's extensive film career, his voice recitals, and his record-breaking Broadway run in the title role of "Othello." It puts into perspective Robeson's intentions, juxtaposed with the finished products. The disparity is particularly notable in his European film stint, in which the final editing undercut and altered what Robeson had understood the films would be.

For myself, it showed the tremendous challenge of "stardom" at the highest level. With great fame and fortune come the downside: the sacrifices, disappointments, and challenges. Few international public figures escape the bitter with the sweet, and Robeson was no exception.

Behind it all resided a man who sought to aid humanity and down injustice. It wasn't an easy road, but Paul took the journey with dignity. This TV doc fairly and comprehensively presents the agony and ecstasy of an extraordinary life.


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