Groundbreaking is not the word.
The Djeli | Ile Ife, Nigeria | 08/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most blacks I know love this movie, even the most Europeanized. It is the first film that I am aware of to depict such a pro-African mindstate for African Americans. How groundbreaking this was in 1973 is lost to the people of today who can not comprehend the extent of anti-Africanism in American culture and what it was like for these first years when African Americans formally became full citizens in America. This film has yet to be followed up as it drowned in the mist of blaxploitation.
Though I'm sure some African Americans out of touch will not get this movie, but it is interesting to note that the only person who rated it low on here was icebergslims, who I know to be white, though many of his reviews show an interest in Africana studies. Many of his reviews are spot on and insightful, though his distance from the experience is evident and an obstacle to depthful comprehension.
However, because the black experience is experienced and not read about or watched on TV or even from black friends, there is an ineffable reality of the black existence in america that has aspects of it that are esoteric to the black community. Such esoteric experiences are common in any marginalized group. It crosses over to gender or sexuality,etc. For example, no matter how much I respect women there are many things about there existence I wont get, simply because I am not one. Likewise, some nonblack people will be unable to get the lure of Five on the Black Hand Side. Sure they know there is a meaningful message but it does not overide the "corny" aspect of the film. Corny because it's not full of the typical dolemite, of which Icebergslims admits to be a great fan of, or richard pryor bambozzled humor? To the liver of black experience it is the subtleties of the experience revealed in the film (even as a man I cried when the mother looked at her new afro in the mirror, and said,"is that me?")that no amount of black research will make nonblacks sensitive to.
That being said, this is such a powerful movie. Watch it not to be thrilled with great acting or even plot, heck, not even message. Instead be moved by the spirit of Five on the Black Hand Side."
Well meaning but dated and corny movie
icebergslims | NYC | 04/08/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Being a fan of obscure quality African American cinema I figured I would give Five on the Black hand Side a try. After buying the title and attempting to sit through the movie 1.5 times, I found it rather dull and boring and overly corny. The movie lacks the energy and charisma that other African American classics like Cooley High have. Alot of the humor seems forced and invokes very little laughter.
The movie definately presents African Americans in a positive light compaired to other 70's African American films. Unfortunately, the movie just has no entertainment value and its black consciouness does not help the movie above it's lethargic flow. I really wanted to support or like this movie on the merit of the issues presented but I simply could not. I am sure themes presented in the movie could possibly be done with a more entertaining result.
Perhaps its because of a generation gap since the movie was done well before my birth? Somebody that lived in the seventies era might enjoy it much more than myself.