Thursday, April 1, 2004
|5:30 p.m.||Nightjohn: Free Screening!|
Charles Burnett (U.S., 1996)
Tickets for this Free First Thursday screening are available at the PFA Theater starting at 4:30 p.m.
Nightjohn gives vivid life to the adage "knowledge is power." Born into slavery, twelve-year-old Sarny (Allison Jones) has learned many harsh lessons in her short life, losing much that she holds dear. But from Nightjohn (Carl Lumbly), an escaped slave voluntarily returned to bondage in the South, she learns that there are some things nobody can take away from you: letters, a name, an identity. Literacy here is more than an abstract issue; for slaves, to whom reading and writing are forbidden, it is a matter of life and death. The film was adapted for the Disney Channel from the children's novel by Gary Paulsen, and it is certainly family friendly, delivering an important message with warmth and humor; but it does little to soften the horrors of slavery, and takes care to point out the economic factors behind the subjugation of black people. Its storybook mood, bathed in sepia firelight, remains grounded in a complex historical and emotional reality.
Nightjohn is repeated on Saturday, April 3.
• Written by Bill Cain, based on a novel by Gary Paulsen. Photographed by Elliot Davis. With Allison Jones, Carl Lumbly, Lorraine Toussaint, Beau Bridges. (96 mins, Color, 35mm, Courtesy of Disney Channel)