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The Green Pastures

4.6 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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(Jan 10, 2006)
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$39.95 $11.29

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"You gotta git your minds fixed," the rural preacher tells Sunday School children. And the best way to do that fixin' is from Old Testament stories narrated by the preacher, played by a black cast, backed by the joyful gospel sounds of the Hall Johnson Choir and based on Marc Connelly's folk-themed Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Rex Ingram portrays de Lawd, who has a 100,000 things to do before any human's next breath - like instructing Noah (Eddie Anderson); taking counsel with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; or teaching Moses tricks to dazzle Pharaoh. Get your mind fixed for The Green Pastures. It's a film of its time. But like all great art, it transcends it.

Amazon.com

"Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah!" Despite racial stereotypes and a naive, backward vision of "Negro Heaven," The Green Pastures remains an important, controversial, and still-entertaining milestone in African American popular culture. Because this 1936 spiritual musical embraces all of the black stereotypes that were prevalent in its time, Warner Home Video has appropriately included a disclaimer regarding the political incorrectness of the film's then-common racial prejudices, stressing the importance of acknowledging these stereotypes as opposed to pretending they never existed. With this understanding, The Green Pastures still endures as a classic American folk drama, based on Marc Connelly's Pulitzer Prize-wining Broadway production (suggested by Roark Bradford's southern sketches "Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun"), in which several Old Testament stories are performed as they might be imagined by black Sunday-school child in the Depression-era South. It's an all-black vision of heaven as a perpetual fish-fry, full of black angels and cherubs eating catfish and smoking 10-cent "see-gars," where "De Lawd" (Rex Ingram) presides over the tales of creation: Noah and the Flood; Joshua at Jericho; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Adam and Eve; Moses and Pharaoh; etc. With heavenly accompaniment by the Hall Johnson Choir, these Bible stories play like a lavish fantasy revival, and while the stereotypical images and all-black colloquialisms may seem absurdly regressive from the perspective of latter-day enlightenment, there's no denying that The Green Pastures is still a transcendently joyful celebration of faith. As a relic of its time, it's a vivid (and for some, still uncomfortable) reminder that racial stereotypes--even in a joyful gospel context--can teach us a lot about where we've been, and where we've yet to go. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
The Green Pastures is accompanied by an excellent DVD commentary in which actor/director LeVar Burton and African American cultural scholars Herb Boyd and Ed Guerrero (author of Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film) place the film in proper historical context. Burton candidly explains why he could never watch Green Pastures in its entirety until he gained the detached perspective of an actor/director, while Boyd and Guerrero relate many of the precedents and milestones that inform such '30s-era movies as The Green Pastures and Cabin in the Sky. Entertaining and informative, their commentary is essential listening for anyone seeking an enlightened perspective on racial stereotypes of the past. Also included, for similar historical appreciation, are two Vitaphone shorts from the early 1930s: "Rufus Jones for President" is a lively "two-reeler" (20 minutes) in which the 7-year-old future Rat Pack star Sammy Davis Jr. sings and dances (along with blues great Ethel Waters) as a young boy who fantasizes about becoming President of the United States. "An All-Colored Vaudeville Show" delivers just what the title promises: a stage revue of black performers including Broadway star Adelaide Hall and the legendary tap-dancing Nicholas Brothers. Both shorts represent all that was good--and bad--about Depression-era show business as a vibrant showcase for African American performers and the social conditions through which they endured. --Jeff Shannon


Special Features

  • Two vintage musical shorts: "Rufus Jones for President," featuring Ethel Waters and 7-year-old Sammy Davis Jr., and "An All-Colored Vaudeville Show," featuring Adelaide Hall and the Nicholas Brothers
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Rex Ingram, Oscar Polk, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Frank H. Wilson, George Reed
  • Directors: Marc Connelly, Roy Mack, William Keighley
  • Writers: Marc Connelly, A. Dorian Otvos, Cyrus Wood, Roark Bradford, Sheridan Gibney
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BNTMDC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,664 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Green Pastures" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This awe-inspiring film has been one of my favorites since childhood, when I watched it on a Sunday morning that I was too sick to go to church (or did the Devil get in me? ). Full of humor and precious moments, wonderful performances, and simply amazing theatre-like staging; I've grown to appreciate this movie more and more as I get older. The all-black cast rises far above the stereotypes which so easily could have ruined the film, interestingly by seeming to apply the powerful lessons of humility and loving obedience which De Lawd expects.
The memorable scenes are too numerous to record, ranging from the powerful (De Lawd, in plantation-owner finery, strolling through heaven, chanting "Has you been redeemed? Has you been baptized?...") to the hilarious (the angel Gabriel, putting his lips to the horn, as he anticipates De Lawd's wrath).
A wonderful family film.
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I admit the first time I saw this film, my skin crawled just a little bit at the accents and stereotypes -- Heaven is a perpetual fish fry!

But as the film progressed and the simple, beautiful vision plays out, it's like the stories triumphs over all the 1930s Hollywood prejudice and takes us places few other films ever seem to approach.

Just to clarify the story ... it's supposed to be how one of the black children, hearing the story of Genesis for the first time, envisions it by placing all the Biblical characters in his or her environment. It's charming and funny and just a fine simple entertainment with some wonderful authentic gospel music ... and then ...

... and then Rex Ingram as "Da Lawd" visits earth to find out why men keep praying to him when he's long ago forsaken them. He meets a soldier named Hezdrel (Rex Ingram in another role) who explains how mankind as discoved mercy ... then he marches off to his death, leaving God standing there, stunned by the lesson he has just learned!

Suddenly, it's not funny or sweet any more but a powerful statement of faith ... a faith that overcomes the worst of Hollywood's prejudices and always leaves me gasping for breath as the scene in Heaven dissolves back to the Sunday School class and into one of the greatest single shots in movie history.

This is a great and powerful movie ... and like so many other posters here, I'm begging for somebody to bring it out in DVD ... preferably somebody like Criterion, which would do it right.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is an absolute must see film. As with all art forms there are masterpieces that should be experienced by as many people as possible and missed by as few as possible. This is one of them. It is one of a kind. You will never see anything even remotely aproaching it's unique apeal. Everyone I know who has seen this movie has a different specific reaction, but generally speaking, it has made them all smile in the remembrance of it. And I can think of no higher praise for a movie than that. Don't miss it.
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Well, Im settling for VHS although I really want it on DVD. This has got to be the best movie of all time...in my opinion of course. I saw this movie some years ago and Ive been looking for it ever since. I was actually on my way to a church revival that night and this movie came on AMC so i watched it as i got dressed. I then found myself debating whether i should go to church late and see the end or go to church on time and see the movie later? This was during black history month so I was sure it would come on again. Well I went to church hoping that Id catch the movie again another time and I never did because..OH WOW! I never caught the name of the movie. Ive spent my day today looking up every old African American movie I could find and I actually found it on someones list. Its a wonderful movie yall, funny as I dont know what although I doubt its meant to be. The vernacular is what sealed it for me. If you want to hear some real serious Ebonics, buy this movie!! For real. Gods name in the movie was Lawd! I wish we could rate higher than 5 stars cuz I'd give this movie a 10!
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Format: VHS Tape
This is a great movie! It's the Bible colorfully told and trust me, the laughs keep coming. You won't be disappointed. You'll want to watch it over and over again. Which brings me to this question: When can we get this on DVD?
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Although the movie starts off with a high "Uncle Sambo" level, this is quickly forgotten as spellbounding and classic scenes unfold in heaven and earth, with more thought-provoking and truly moving settings and performances than many, many films since. Rex Ingram displays a quiet power, rare sense of humour, and an even more rare sense of humanity as De Lawd. Memorable scenes: the creation (a picknick in Heaven), Noah ("Forgive me for not recognizing you, Lawd. I should have known the glory"), Mozes' last moment, leaving his flock to go into Israel and the last scenes with God desperately trying to understand man. A most human film.
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I first saw this movie as a child, probably aged 5 or six, and I'd never forgotten it. For some reason, I had never been able to catch it on t.v., and as the years went by, it became very sketchy in my mind, but still there. Last night, about 44 years after the first time I viewed it, I had the profound pleasure of seeing it again. It was worth the wait.
The cast is spectacular, the sets charming and beautiful. It tells the story of creation, Adam and Eve, Noah ect, with a child-like simplicity. Often hilarious, sometimes very poignant and moving but always reverent, it illustrates what has given African Americans the strength to survive the tremendous struggles we have faced as a people. A simple, steadfast faith in God, who, for many of us, is as real as the sun, flowers, storms, and just as much a part of our every day lives. It is an awesome movie, and one that I think every one should see, at least once.
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