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Tongues Untied (1989)

Not Rated | | Documentary | July 1989 (USA)
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill ... See full summary »

Director:

Marlon Riggs
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marlon Riggs
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael Bell
Kerrigan Black Kerrigan Black
Blackberri Blackberri
Djola Bernard Branner Djola Bernard Branner ... (as Bernard Branner)
Ben Callet Ben Callet
Gerald Davis Gerald Davis
Kenneth R. Dixson Kenneth R. Dixson
Larry Duckette Larry Duckette
Gideon Ferebee Gideon Ferebee
Brian Freeman Brian Freeman
Gene Garth Gene Garth
Essex Hemphill Essex Hemphill
A.J. Honey A.J. Honey
Paul Horrey Paul Horrey
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Storyline

Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry, Riggs telling the story of his growing up, scenes of men in social intercourse and dance, and various comic riffs, including a visit to the "Institute of Snap!thology," where men take lessons in how to snap their fingers: the sling snap, the point snap, the diva snap. The film closes with obituaries for victims of AIDS and archival footage of the civil rights movement placed next to footage of Black men marching in a gay pride parade. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

July 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tongues Untied: Black Men Loving Black Men See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Signifyin' Works See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Saturday Night Live: Tom Arnold/Neil Young (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A powerful gay black documentary
2 November 2012 | by nelandquintenSee all my reviews

Marlon Riggs' documentary "Tongues Untied" left a brief, but definitive impact on me. This documentary about gay African-American men reveals several poets, preachers, activists, and scholars. There is no narration in "Tongues Untied". Instead, all the dialogue is spoken in philosophical rhymes and poems. The documentary showcases, and even full-on exposes its praise for the black homosexual lifestyle, in an artistic and flamboyant fashion.

As a filmmaker myself, I was drawn into how Riggs was able to explain the persecution of homosexuals without having a sit-down interview, and instead uses stand-up performances, poetry, and symbolism to prove his point. From the confines of a gay black man's isolation and loneliness, to the exciting experiences of the San Francisco "Castro" district, Riggs took the audience to some fascinating, and often times deplorable world that gay black men face every day of their lives.

I was a little annoyed by the pacing of the film. There were some parts that had me yawning. But "Tongues Untied" sends a powerful message of tolerance, culture, and tradition from a filmmaker who is sadly no longer with us. This documentary captured my attention, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.


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