Representation of Race in Cinema
In this research paper, I have been asked to analyse the representation of race in the World, African or South African Cinema. Before I start, I would like to clear something regarding the task I have been asked to do, as I personally believe that we only have one race which is the human race, but regarding this tasks, I try to understand the word “race” as people of different background and culture including different languages. So only in this essay, I will be using words like “race”, “Black” man or person, “White” person and “Negro” to fulfil the task I have been asked to do. And I personally apologize for whom I may offend by these terms used in this essay. When I heard about this task, the first thing coming to my mind was thinking of the first black man to win an “Academy Award for the best Actor in 1964, which is actor, director, writer and diplomat Sidney Poitier for his role in the 1963 film “Lilies of Field”1. Sidney Poitier was the first African American to be on the screen in the American cinema. Through his feeling of expressing his passion in the early 1946, he joined the Theatre called American Negro at the time, but during the performance he was rejected from the audience, as they expected the contrary of what was delivered from a Black actor at that time2. After the rejection, Poitier did not give up, but he worked hard to improve himself with better writing and reading English, and then coming back again for a second attempt at the theatre and he was noticed and given a leading role in the production. Later, Poitier received a good review at the theatre. By the end of 1949, he was offered a role to work in a 1950 movie called “No Way out”3. The movie “NO WAY OUT” was a debut for Sidney Poitier, where he portrays a “doctor tending to slum residents whose ethics are tested when confronted with racism, personified by Richard Widmark as the hateful robber Ray Biddle”4. The film is a 1950 black and white film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and represents a black intern who just finished his studies and went to the state board examination to be qualified for his licence to
practice. Poitier plays the role of Dr Luther Brooks, who was the first African American doctor in his area. After his internship ends, the self-confident Brooks (Sidney Poitier) requests to work as a junior resident at the hospital for another year. The two robbers Johnny (Dick Paxton) and Ray Biddle (Richard Widmark) who are brothers, where taken to this hospital after both being short in the legs by a policeman while they where robbing a gas station. To make it short, one of the two robbers, Johnny, was medically checked and he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and later dies during a procedure. The other brother, Ray claims that the reason his brother Johnny died was because he had a black doctor, as if it was a white doctor his brother could be still alive. Dr Brooks Luther (Sidney Poitier) consult his mentor Dr. Daniel Wharton (Stephen McNally), who is the chef medical resident of the hospital regarding the situation of Johnny’s death. His mentor suggests an autopsy as the tumor might be only one possibility for the death and that by state law, they would need first the permission of the deceased ́s family. They agree and the autopsy confirms that Johnny ́s death was caused by his long brain tumor disease.5 The reason, I brought this story up is to show an example of early representation of a Black person in...
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