Turner Classics Movies To Broadcast Oscar Micheaux’s Restored Powerful Silent Film 'Within Our Gates' Sunday 9/7
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Turner Classics Movies To Broadcast Oscar Micheaux’s Restored Powerful Silent Film 'Within Our Gates' Sunday 9/7

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filmmaking pioneer Oscar Micheaux’s 1920 film "Within Our Gates," was his second

film from the over 40 films he made during his career and some consider it

his best film.

The film was

shot in and around the Chicago area when his production company was based there, before he moved to New York (which remained the center for most of his film productions

until his last film "The Betrayal" in 1948, which he returned to Chicago to make).

And Micheaux

made "Gates" not only as a response to D.W. Griffith’s "Birth of Nation," but also

to the infamous Chicago race riots of 1919, known as the “Red Summer of  1919,” in which 23 African-Americans were killed, and

over 400 injured by white mobs.

Of course, as

with all of Micheaux’s films, the storyline is too melodramatic and convoluted

to go into here, with his usual overabundance of coincidences, but it becomes

starkly serious and brutal in the final third of the film.

Don’t let

the rather prosaic image above from the film fool you; the film packs a power

and emotional impact, depicting the mob lynching of a black husband and wife, and an attempt to lynch their son as well.

Not surprisingly, the film was censored in several cities, including Chicago, for fear of

inciting yet more race riots, and was only later allowed to be seen in various

cut editions. Though the film was a big

hit with black audiences, it would eventually become lost for decades, until an almost

complete print of the film, entitled "La Negra" ("The Black Woman"), was

discovered in Spain in the 1970s with Spanish subtitles.

The film was

eventually restored to its original version, and in 1992, it was selected

by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film

Registry as being "culturally,

historically, and aesthetically significant."

It’s rarely

screened nowadays, but, this Sunday, Turner Classic Movies cable channel will broadcast

the restored version starting at 12am Sunday/ Monday (11PM Sunday Central time).

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