Silent cinema

Body and Soul

+ intro

The finest film from the first Black American film director, Oscar Micheaux.

Image from Body and Soul + intro

USA 1925
Dir Oscar Micheaux
With Paul Robeson, Mercedes Gilbert, Julia Theresa Russell, Lawrence Chenault
Certificate U
With live piano accompaniment

Body and Soul, made for a segregated Black audience, is a key work of pioneering African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, although it’s perhaps more famous for being the film debut of Paul Robeson (and it’s quite a debut). Robeson plays Rev Isaiah T Jenkins, a scheming convict impersonating a minister who mesmerises and attempts to swindle his congregation, and Robeson also plays his alter ego, Isaiah’s long-lost twin brother Sylvester. The unusual structure explores the use of memory and dreams in dealing with violence and immorality.