James Williams considers how and why John Ridley's acclaimed 2017 television series Guerrilla (Sky Atlantic/Showtime) 'reradicalizes' early black British radical cinema, specifically Horace Ové's 1975 film, Pressure, the first feature-length work by a black British director. For Guerrilla's fictional narrative about a Black Power terrorist cell in London in 1972 pursues an option that Pressure, about the gradual radicalization of a young black British teenager in West London, resolutely avoids, namely militant violence. A close comparative study of both works in terms of characterization, cinematic style, the depiction of urban space, and the representation of violence highlights the originality and overlooked significance of Ové's pioneering film. It also suggests that Ridley reinvents the story of Black Power in early 1970s Britain in order to intervene in more contemporary debates taking place in the US about diversity and the function of revolutionary violence to effect social change.
The Time Is Now: Pressure, Guerrilla, and the (Re)invention of Black British Cinema and History
James S. Williams is professor of Modern French Literature and Film at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of (among others) The Erotics of Passage: Pleasure, Politics, and Form in the Later Work of Marguerite Duras (1997), Jean Cocteau (2006), Space and Being in Contemporary French Cinema (2013), and Encounters with Godard: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics (2016). His new monograph entitled Ethics and Aesthetics in Contemporary African Cinema: The Politics of Beauty is forthcoming with Bloomsbury.
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James S. Williams; The Time Is Now: Pressure, Guerrilla, and the (Re)invention of Black British Cinema and History. Film Quarterly 1 September 2018; 72 (1): 26–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2018.72.1.26
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