MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 15,042 this week

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004)

8.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 904 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 5 critic

The story of Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight boxing champion.

Director:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

with Prime Instant Video

Editors' Spotlight

Fall TV Premiere Week

Many of your favorite shows are coming back, along with plenty of series premieres. Here's a list of the shows premiering between Sunday, September 21 and Friday, September 26.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 27 titles
created 15 Feb 2011
 
doc
a list of 30 titles
created 24 May 2012
 
a list of 26 titles
created 27 Aug 2012
 
a list of 10 titles
created 17 Apr 2013
 
a list of 37 titles
created 8 months ago
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004)

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004) on IMDb 8.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Thomas Hart Benton (TV Movie 1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Thomas Hart Benton's paintings were energetic and uncompromising. Today his works are in museums, but Benton hung them in saloons for ordinary people to appreciate.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Thomas Hart Benton, Jason Robards
Huey Long (1985)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Ken Burns' portrait of Louisiana governor/U.S. senator Huey Long.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Huey Long, Russell Long, David McCullough
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  

A documentary that weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

Stars: Theodore Roosevelt, Paul Giamatti, Edward Herrmann
Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Why is it that Billy Bob Thornton, Dave Matthews, Peter Buck, Derek Trucks, Phish, Widespread Panic, and Blues Traveler are all huge fans of Colonel Bruce Hampton, but you've never heard of... See full summary »

Directors: Tom Lawson, Michael Koepenick
Stars: John Bell, Stanley Booth, Peter Buck
Jack Johnson (1970)
Certificate: GP Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A documentary on the first African-American boxer to ever become world heavyweight champion. Released on the same year as "The Great White Hope" and also Oscar nominated like that film, ... See full summary »

Director: Jim Jacobs
Stars: Brock Peters, Kevin Kennedy, Tommy Burns
Biography (TV Series 1987)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The life stories of various historical figures and celebrities are told.

Stars: Jack Perkins, Peter Graves, Harry Smith
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A behind-the-scenes look at Grammy-winning Canadian composer and record producer Daniel Lanois.

Directors: Daniel Lanois, Adam Samuels, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Brady Blade, Brian Blade, Aaron Embry
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The rise and fall of the N.Y. Cosmos. The soccer team that brought Pele to America; against the backdrop of N.Y. City in the 70's.

Directors: Paul Crowder, John Dower
Stars: Pelé, Giorgio Chinaglia, Matt Dillon
Facing Ali (2009)
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Ten of Muhammad Ali's former rivals pay tribute to the three-time world heavyweight champion.

Director: Pete McCormack
Stars: George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, George Foreman
The Dust Bowl (TV Mini-Series 2012)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Stars: Peter Coyote, Donald Worster, Dorothy Williamson
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Two Who Dared: Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, and Martha Sharp, a trained social worker, in February 1939, boldly commit to a life-threatening mission in Europe to assist refugees.

Director: Artemis Joukowsky
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Director: Michael Negrin
Stars: Sean Connery, Marlo Thomas, Gloria Swanson
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Johnson ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Narrator (voice)
...
Jack Johnson (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
Murphy Guyer ...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
Edit

Storyline

The story of Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight boxing champion.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They couldn't knock him out, so they tried to tear him down.


Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 January 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Er wollte kein Sklave sein  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Quotes

Jack Johnson: If and suppose, two small words, but nobody has ever been able to explain them. One man falls out of bed and is killed, another falls from a fifty foot scaffold and lives. One man gets shot in the leg and is killed, another gets a bullet in the brain and lives. I always take a chance on my pleasures.
See more »


Soundtracks

Mourning Song
Composed and Performed by Wynton Marsalis
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A remarkable portrait of a true original
16 September 2004 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

I saw this film at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. It may seem hard to believe, but I've never seen a Ken Burns film. I've always meant to, of course, but watching a multi- part documentary series is something of a commitment. So I jumped at the chance to see an entire film in one sitting. Clocking in at an impressive 218 minutes (and including a short intermission and a lively Q&A session, I was in the theatre for almost 4½ hours), I was hoping that the quantity would be matched by the quality. I was not disappointed.

Jack Johnson was a true original. The first black man to hold the heavyweight boxing championship, he was a self-assured man who dressed well, drove fast cars, and kept white women as girlfriends. While not unusual now, this was highly irregular a hundred years ago, at a time when black lynchings were at their peak and the press regularly printed offensive cartoons to go along with its racist rhetoric. In the ring, he was a highly intelligent boxer, favouring a defensive style unknown in his day. He was also incredibly sensitive and articulate, especially for a man with only five years of formal education. But the struggles Johnson faced were almost insurmountable. No white champion would agree to fight a black man. Jim Jeffries preferred to retire undefeated rather than face Johnson, and Johnson had to travel around chasing champ Tommy Burns, hounding him to give him a title shot. When Burns finally agreed to a fight in 1908 (for a purse of $35,000, an unbelievable sum in those days), the contest wasn't even close, with Johnson dancing around, taunting his opponent, and talking to people in the ringside seats. The police stepped in during the fourteenth round to prevent him from knocking out the badly beaten Burns.

Johnson held the title from 1908 until 1915, with his most famous bout in 1910, against ex- champ Jeffries, whom he soundly defeated. This led to race riots all over the country, and many people were killed. From the moment he won the championship, it seemed that white society looked for ways to discredit him. The press were relentless, printing hostile editorials and calling for a "Great White Hope" who would return boxing's crown to its rightful place (and race). When a 37-year old Johnson finally lost the championship to Jess Willard, a giant man ten years his junior, it seemed to many that the black race had been taught an important lesson.

Johnson's life was troubled, and he continued to face persecution from the press and even law enforcement, who prosecuted him on charges related to his "debauchery" with white women. He eventually served a year in prison. There would not be another black heavyweight champion until Joe Louis, 22 years later.

This is a remarkable film for many reasons. First of all, in the little-known story of Jack Johnson, Burns has found a microcosm of the racial situation of the day, and one that has many echoes even now. Muhammad Ali, after seeing James Earl Jones portray Johnson in the Broadway play "The Great White Hope" (later made into a film), declared that Johnson's life story was similar to his own. A black man choosing to live as a free individual on his own terms is something that is still hard for some white people to tolerate.

Burns' film is also remarkable for the way in which it uses actual archival film of Johnson's bouts. Using silent film, Burns and his crew have added sound effects such as crowd noise and the sounds of blows connecting, and it gives these scenes the visceral punch they require. Finally, the superb "talking heads" (including the late George Plimpton, James Earl Jones, and the witty Stanley Crouch) and voice talent (Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of Johnson; others include Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Jacobi, Brian Cox, and Alan Rickman) bring the extraordinary story of Jack Johnson vividly to life.

As an added bonus, you get to hear James Earl Jones say "balls". Twice.

(9/10)


33 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Great 'mint julips' quote scazza
Music question shimshamtothemax
Jim J. Jeffries should sue! kentonc2001

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?