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James Baldwin: “Who Is The “N*gg*r?”

James Baldwin: "Who Is The "N*gg*r?"

I don’t believe there’s been a feature narrative film on the life of James Baldwin has there? There’ve been documentaries like The Price Of A Ticket, but no biopics I’m aware of, or if one has even been attempted. Or have there been any feature films in which he is a character in someone else’s story. Can’t think of any either…

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His story is not exciting enough for the masses. Would make a nice low key indie film or a documentary.


J Mac I disagree that very few people would be interested in seeing a film about James Baldwin he was probably the most successful black writer in the mid 20th century until his death in 1987. Baldwin is such an interesting person he didn’t just fit into the black box. James wasn’t just focused on the civil rights struggle he was a very proud openly gay black man. Baldwin’s homosexuality was a critical component of his identity and his art.

Also, James Baldwin was born 1924 during the Harlem Renaissance so it was before Baldwin’s time. The Harlem Renaissance started in 1917 and ended around 1930.


If that Bio-pic should happen, why not team ex-wire actor-Micheal K.Willams with ex-hollywood darling/magic realist director-Hector Babenco? of movie- Pixote,fame?


Very few people would be interested in a movie based only on Baldwin. I’d skip that as well. If it’s an ensemble piece about the major players during the Harlem Renaissance with a similar feel as Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, maybe.


I would love to see a feature film about James Baldwin since he was the first openly gay black writer that really reached a global audience and become an international icon. A lot of black films seem to straight wash the gay right out of the histories of black queer icons.

It would take a special director to bring to the surface Baldwin experienced in relation to his racial and sexual orientation struggle. I sincerely hope anyone that wants to tackle the story of James Baldwin would not ignore his homosexuality.

Baldwin’s novel 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room is just an amazing book. Baldwin was also very outspoken about the homophobia in the black community.


Hmm, a few of you make some good points and have me wondering about these many eloquent, historical leaders from our past who deserve to be praised. But I am afraid they will forever be lost in the pages of old, dusty hardcover books in references.

Unfortunately, whenever the thought arises of creating a film based on the life, times and revolution of many prominent Black faces from our history.

We stop and reconsider the idea because we think it may not appeal to the mass (white people) because we are too busy trying to win their trust.

To hell with that! This is 2011 why are we still allowing white people to evaluate us in these modern times. We should be able to tell whatever stories we want w/o their approval.

Will Wright

Hmm. I agree with the first commenter.

But before wondering about films on brother Baldwin, who’s remembered in the mass media so seldomly that his eloquence seems long lost, what about “Take This Hammer,” the documentary that clip came from?

This clip presses me to add several of Baldwin’s oeuvres to my reading list. But that list is already long, looking into 2012.

Will Wright | film critic and analyst |



James Madison

I posted a comment in a thread in regards to Harriet Tubman.

I would like to see a feature film about her life but I must say, it got me to thinking-

Is it better that these Icons be discovered via books or documentaries rather than feature films that has a stronger potential to be biased?

I would love to see Baldwin, Nat Turner, Mrs. Tubman and various others with stories in feature films, but I’m wondering does that leads to a disservice in trying to honor these Icons.

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