4 Masterpieces of Black cinema to celebrate Juneteenth with
Juneteenth 2021 is definitely a day to remember, as it is the first time it is celebrated as a federal holiday. This Juneteenth coincides with Saturday, which means it is the perfect time to incorporate the day into your weekend movie night.
But what movie should you choose? Here are 4 unapologetically Black movies to celebrate Juneteenth with.
1. The Color Purple
Featured on many must-watch lists, The Color Purple is a piece of Black cinema that is about the Black female struggle for empowerment. It also highlights the many problems and risks that still threaten Black women today, including domestic violence, incest, pedophilia, poverty, racism, and sexism.
By examining the life and transformation of its protagonist Celie Harris, and her two dear friends Shug and Sofia. At its climax, viewers will be thrilled to witness Celie’s victory against the brutal Mister, as well as her, and the Black women in her life, finding their happy ending. Fun fact: the color for Domestic Abuse Awareness is purple, directly inspired by the movie.
2. The Help
Don’t let the appearance of the ever-infectious Emma Stone fool you, The Help is a story about Black women’s struggles against the racially charged 1960s. Another movie about female empowerment and standing up for one’s self, The Help tells the sad and shocking stories of mistreatment from two Black maids in the 60s through its protagonists Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer).
A classic feel-good movie, with so many melodramas baked into it, to the point of turning cheesy at times, The Help is the kind of movie that makes you feel an uplifting spark of hope. With how each maid in the story prevails against their predicaments or tormentors, The Help gives us the satisfaction of watching all the Karens in the world face their comeuppance, which is perfect for a movie night.
3. 12 Years A Slave
If you need a movie that tells stories of how horrific slave treatment is, the critically acclaimed 12 Years A Slave is that movie. It tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free Black man with a niche for music and artistry during the 1800s, and how he was kidnap and forced into slavery. Based on the memoir of the titular character, the movie offers an honest-to-God truth of how slaves were cruelly and brutally treated during the 1800s.
So, the question remains: why would you watch such a brutal movie during a home screening of family and close friends? Because 12 Years A Slave doesn’t just feature senseless violence, it also has a happy and satisfactory happy ending. Better yet, the protagonist Solomon Northup’s strong and unbreakable will is exactly the kind of spirit we need to have during this tasking time.
4. Django Unchained
From the master of revenge fantasies Quentin Tarantino, Django Freeman is one of the best Black heroes to ever appear on the screen. The movie doesn’t preach about social injustice, instead opts to deliver actions and bloodshed as the protagonist fights to find and protect his wife from brutal, and at times, straight-up evil, slave owners.
While Tarantino is not always known for being someone who makes social commentary or historically accurate movies, with Inglorious Basterds being a prime example, Django Unchained portrayed racism and slavery as dark and horrific as they are. Held as one of the best movies Tarantino has ever directed, Django Unchained is action-packed, with generous use of explosives and violence, which makes it the perfect selection for your movie night.
Making a movie night with racism as a theme is hard. Movies are supposed to entertain, and thus not many people appreciate the realism of the subject. But with Congress recently passing the bill and acknowledging Juneteenth as a federal holiday, dedicating your movie night for Juneteenth isn’t too irrational a task.
In case you want to explore other ideas for a Juneteenth-themed Saturday night, try reading our guide on 4 last-minute ideas for a grand Juneteenth celebration.