Black Films

4 April 2015
Examines and compares 1930s-1940s and 1960s-1970s films. Discusses the portrayal of black characters and culture, themes, accuracy, audiences, biases and blaxploitation.

Black films from the 1930s and 1940s were produced by black filmmakers for a black circuit and were rarely seen by white audiences. So-called blaxploitation films from the late 1960s and early 1970s were produced by white filmmakers for a largely urban audience, and these films were shaped for white audiences as well as black. The black films from an earlier era showed a wide range of subject matter, with the mass of films emulating white genres such as detective stories, westerns, comedies, domestic dramas, crime dramas, and so on. The blaxploitation films of the 1970s were much more limited, being primarily crime and action films featuring drug use, violence, sexual situations, and so on, creating an image of blacks that was limited and, in the eyes of many critics, degrading.

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