Within Our Gates | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Within Our Gates

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

Said to be the earliest extant feature directed by an African-American, this 1920 made-in-Chicago film is of more than historical interest. Though the narrative structure is somewhat choppy, director Oscar Micheaux otherwise demonstrates mastery of the silent form, using supple compositions and careful editing to amplify the characters' emotions in a manner that makes sound seem superfluous. The story, about an African-American woman trying to raise money in Boston to support a black school in the south, is sociologically fascinating, with its broad canvas of characters, from virtuous whites and blacks to white racists and a black preacher who toadies to them; most moving is the way the film argues that black people's real quest was simply to be treated as human. Lost for decades, the film was restored by the Library of Congress in 1993 after a salvageable copy turned up in Spain. Presented by the Silent Film Society of Chicago; organist Jay Warren will provide live accompaniment. 79 min. For more on Micheaux, see Calendar in Section One. Central Park House of Prayer, 3535 W. Roosevelt, Sunday, February 15, 3:00, 773-205-7372.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment