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Native Son [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Victor Love, Matt Dillon, Elizabeth McGovern, Geraldine Page, Oprah Winfrey
  • Directors: Jerrold Freedman
  • Writers: Richard Wesley, Richard Wright
  • Producers: Diane Silver, Lindsay Law, Ruta K. Aras
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Monterey Video
  • VHS Release Date: November 11, 1998
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303864104
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,896 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

OUT OF PRINT

Customer Reviews

There were just way too many things left out of the movie.
Chad Spivak
It is not an outstanding performance; however, it does offer a color cinematic version, while having actors that are recongnizable to a younger generation.
C. Hopkins
Although it is far better than the original adaptation of the book into a movie (filmed in 1949), it fails to capture the essence of Bigger Thomas.
Bonita L. Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Hopkins on September 10, 2005
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I understand the perspectives of the other online-reviewers; however, being an English teacher, I have found this video to be quite beneficial and complimentary in assisting me and helping my students to understand the characterization and themes in Native Son. It is not an outstanding performance; however, it does offer a color cinematic version, while having actors that are recongnizable to a younger generation.

I do not believe that many outstanding novels can ever really be properly and accurately portryaed on film; that is really a daunting task for directors, writers, and producers. To this date, I can only say that The Color Purple has actually achieved cinematic success, due in large part to the creative genius of Steven Spielberg. That is a rarity.

However, I have been trying to find this movie for some time, and at last, I have found it. It will be put to good use in my classroom.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on December 14, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The cinematic presentation of Richard Wright's classic is once again another flop. Although it is far better than the original adaptation of the book into a movie (filmed in 1949), it fails to capture the essence of Bigger Thomas. How can such a film with a star studded cast fail so miserably? After all, now you have actors who can really act!
Native Son lacks passion.Bigger comes across as poor Black boy gone wrong with his cowardly behavior. His white liberal benefactors personalities are benign. Jan (Matt Dillon) just doesn't impress me as an ardent communist. Mary Dalton ( Elizabeth McGovern) comes across as a bubble head. Even Oprah Winfrey's begging plea to let her son live, is a sham. Where is the political and heated fervor of the era? John Karlen's role as Max, the lawyer for Bigger, was a waste of time. He wasn't convincing as a passionate lawyer out to save this oppressed black boy.
Most film adaptations of books fall short in staying true to the author's story. This second adaptation falls through period. I found it a great disappointment in the acting as well as the script. Someday, somehow, some one will do this great novel justice and present us with a blockbuster film filled with not only passion but with a sense of what formed this Native Son. I recommend this movie to put in your video archive along with its original version.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scott on July 20, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Well, after reading Native Son, I thought it would be a good idea to rent the movie to get visual of what happened in the book. Well, that was all I got out of this movie...
There wasn't anything wrong with the acting or set, it was the script. They simply cut way too much out of the book. Here are some examples:
-After Bigger killed Mary and they found the bones in the furnace, Bigger ran from the house (as he did in the book), and then all of a sudden he's on roof tops getting chased and then caught. In the book he was on the run with Bessie for a few days and then he killed her. -In the book, they had two inquests and in the movie they only had one...no mention of Bigger fainting in the first inquest. -They completely cut out the trial in the movie, only playing soundbytes. They only showed the sentencing. In the book, Bigger's lawyer gave a 16 page statement on Biggers behalf. -Bigger's mother (Oprah Winfrey) assumed the role of both his mother and the priest in the movie.
Well, those are a few examples. If I hadn't read the book I wouldn't have known what was going on in Bigger's head, which was what made the book so good. I don't think Richard Wright would be too impressed with this movie.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chad Spivak on July 22, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
After reading the book, the movie leaves a lot to be desired. There were just way too many things left out of the movie.
The film did have an exceptional cast, and the acting was terrific. I was somewhat suprised at how well Matt Dillon play Jan Erlone. The setting was pretty good too. The scenery was put together nicely, as it did look like the 1940's.
Unfortunately, the editing from the novel made the film seem quite choppy. Having read the book, you got into the minds of the characters, especially that of Bigger's. The movie skipped over too many things, not allowing you to do this, which was a fairly big letdown.
Not reading the book might leave you with a different impression of the film, because, once again, the acting is wonderful. But, having read the book, I couldn't enjoy the movie. Way too many important scenes were taken out of it. It is really not a good adaptation.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lewis Ross Brown on July 12, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
For starters this movie depicts everything that is detailed/explained in the original title "Native Son". I do not know precisely which movie one of the previous reviewers from Decatur, Georgia was watching, but I can most definitely assure that it was not Native Son.
The cast performed almost as good as the cast members in the original story. I think the book and the video are an excellent combinational method for those reading the novel and attempting to visual what the entire concept of this novel is all about. In short I think the video is well deserving of a 4 star rating.
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By consumer on August 9, 2014
Format: VHS Tape
I’ve read the book and seen both film versions of the story, and I feel this movie was really quite good. The book is deeper, but the actors redeem the film. Victor Love’s performance was phenomenal – he effectively conveyed a cycle of fear and abuse that underlie antisocial behavior. There are certain events and political undertones of the novel that are not covered in this film, but I am guessing that the film’s producers wanted to maintain a PG rating, which would have been challenging: e.g., treatment of Bessie’s murder, motives behind Mr. Dalton’s philanthropy, and systemic bias. Wright wrote this story when he was becoming disenchanted with the Communist party, and that was significant feature of the legal defense presented in the book. Ideally, the movie could have been longer.
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