Magazine article Variety

Finding Truth through Crafts in 'Native Son'

Magazine article Variety

Finding Truth through Crafts in 'Native Son'

Article excerpt

WHEN HBO FILMS BOUGHT THE WORLD-premiering "Native Son" earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, it felt that the movie, based on Richard Wright's seminal 1940 novel of the same name, would focus on a subject to which modern audiences could certainly relate: the complicated issue of racism in America. But the filmmakers faced a harder task in telling the story of Bigger Thomas, a poor 20-year-old African American living in Depression-era Chicago - making the 1930s setting relevant to modern audiences.

The drama, which HBO premiered on the small screen April 6, toplines Ashton Sanders as Bigger and marks the directorial debut of visual artist Rashid Johnson, with a screenplay by Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. The talent pool behind the film includes production designer Akin McKenzie ("High Maintenance," "Wildlife") and Oscar-nommed cinematographer Matthew Libatique ("A Star Is Born," "Black Swan").

When Libatique first signed on to the project, he and Johnson came to the table with the identical visual reference in mind: Roy DeCarava, a photographer and artist who captured the lives of African Americans and jazz musicians in New York City in the mid-20th century

That creative concept permeates "Native Son" in terms of composition, mood, feel and emotion conveyed with the camera, says Libatique. "In collaboration with Akin and talking about palette, how we approached the story photographically was in tune with the sensitivity that he had created - this semblance of a realistic world for Bigger, since Bigger is a larger-than-life character. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.