Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song • 1h 38m
Directed by Melvin Van Peebles • 1971 • United States
Starring Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales
A landmark of Black and American independent cinema that would send shock waves through the culture, SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG was Melvin Van Peebles’s second feature film, after he walked away from a contract with Columbia in order to make his next film on his own terms. Acting as producer, director, writer, composer, editor, and star, Van Peebles created the prototype for what Hollywood would eventually co-opt and make into the blaxploitation hero: a taciturn, perpetually blank-faced performer in a sex show, who, when he’s pushed too far by a pair of racist cops looking to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit, goes on the run through a lawless underground of bikers, revolutionaries, sex workers, and hippies in a kill-or-be-killed quest for liberation from white oppression. SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG’s incendiary politics are matched by Van Peebles’s revolutionary style, in which jagged jump cuts, kaleidoscopic superimpositions, and psychedelic sound design come together in a sustained howl of rage and defiance.
This film contains scenes that depict sexual activity, including some involving underage participants. Viewer discretion is advised.
Up Next in Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG Com...
This audio commentary featuring director Melvin Van Peebles was recorded in 1997 for the Criterion Collection’s laserdisc edition of SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG.
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In this brief introduction, recorded in 1997, director Melvin Van Peebles shares the four goals he set for SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG.
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In this interview, recorded in 2021, filmmaker Mario Van Peebles shares with film critic Elvis Mitchell anecdotes about his father, director Melvin Van Peebles.