Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

4.3 6
Director: Ken Burns, Samuel L. Jackson, Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco

Cast: Ken Burns, Samuel L. Jackson, Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco

     
 

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Experience legendary boxer Jack Johnson's remarkable struggle both in and out of the ring in documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' two-part look at the career of one of the sports world's most remarkable athletes. From his childhood in Galveston, TX, as the son of former slaves to his triumph as the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1908,

Overview

Experience legendary boxer Jack Johnson's remarkable struggle both in and out of the ring in documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' two-part look at the career of one of the sports world's most remarkable athletes. From his childhood in Galveston, TX, as the son of former slaves to his triumph as the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1908, Johnson's career was a defining moment in the realm of sports history.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
History plays ironic tricks, making terms such as "The Great White Hope" part of the vernacular, for instance, while leaving the phrase's roots obscure. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, collaborating again with writer Geoffrey C. Ward (Jazz, Baseball, The Civil War), uncovers those roots and much more in the acclaimed two-part biographical film Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. The first black boxer to hold the title of world heavyweight champion, Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878, and took up boxing as a teenager. Despite his years of dominance in the ring, racial segregation denied him a shot at the "whites only" heavyweight crown until 1908, when he beat defending champion Tommy Burns in 14 rounds. It was this culture-quaking victory that spurred the search for a "Great White Hope" who could reclaim the crown from Johnson. Of course, Ken Burns's documentary is about much more than this specific tipping point and the catchphrase it spawned. Combining archival film footage and photos with a panel of knowledgeable commentators, Burns explores the remarkable life of a man who truly lived by his own terms, facing all challengers in the ring and drawing fire from racists outside of it -- especially those who objected to his marrying white women. Among the talking heads who share their thoughts and stories - they include Stanley Crouch, Bert Sugar, and George Plimpton - the observations of James Earl Jones are especially interesting, as his portrayal of Johnson in both the stage and screen versions of The Great White Hope vaulted the young actor to considerable fame.
New York Times - Ned Martel
In Unforgivable Blackness, [Burns] returns to the unresolved racial anguish that made his Civil War series a masterpiece, and this video biography is the most stirring look into African-American history in recent memory.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/11/2005
UPC:
0841887050623
Original Release:
2004
Rating:
NR
Source:
Pbs (Direct)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
3:40:00
Sales rank:
13,771

Special Features

"The Making of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson"; Deleted scenes; Special music video featuring Wynton Marsalis; Enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Samuel L. Jackson Jack Johnson
Adam Arkin Voice Only
Philip Bosco Voice Only
Carolyn McCormick Voice Only
Kevin Conway Voice Only
Brian Cox Voice Only
John Cullum Voice Only
Murphy Guyer Voice Only
Ed Harris Voice Only
Derek Jacobi Voice Only
Carl Lumbly Voice Only
Amy Madigan Voice Only
Joe Morton Voice Only
Alan Rickman Voice Only
Studs Terkel Voice Only
Jack Thompson Voice Only
Billy Bob Thornton Voice Only
Courtney B. Vance Voice Only
Eli Wallach Voice Only
Jeffrey Wright Voice Only
Stanley Crouch Participant
Bert Sugar Participant
Gerald Early Participant
José Torres Participant
Randy Roberts Participant
Jack Newfield Participant
W.C. Heinz Participant
George Plimpton Participant
Keith David Narrator

Technical Credits
Ken Burns Director,Executive Producer
Paul Barnes Editor,Producer
Erik Ewers Editor
Wynton Marsalis Score Composer
Stephen McCarthy Cinematographer
John Osborne Sound/Sound Designer
Brenda Ray Sound/Sound Designer
David Schaye Producer
Buddy Squires Cinematographer
Susanna Steisel Associate Producer
Geoffrey C. Ward Screenwriter

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Disc 1
1. Introduction [1:13]
2. Rise [5:20]
3. The Emperor of Masculinity [5:59]
4. The Forbidden District [10:22]
5. The Golden Smile [16:11]
6. A Hard Man to Handle [15:13]
7. White Hopes [11:31]
8. Independence Day [21:00]
9. A Word to a Black Man [12:03]
10. Credits [9:20]
1. From Johnson's Early Life & Career [:06]
2. On Johnson's Boxing Style & Talent [3:32]
3. On Segregation & the Color Line [4:47]
4. On W.E.B. Dubois & the Niagara Movement, 1905 [2:06]
5. Cut From Johnson vs Burns, 1908 [2:41]
6. Alternate Ending for Johnson vs. Ketchel, 1909 [1:53]
7. Cut From the Prelude to the Johnson vs. Jeffries Fight, 1910 [1:13]
8. Cut From the Aftermath of the Johnson vs. Jeffries Fight [4:23]
9. Scenes Cut From Episode II [1:30]
Side #2 -- Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Disc 2
1. Introduction [7:28]
2. Fall [7:07]
3. Smooth Goods [9:07]
4. I am Not a Slave [20:25]
5. Everybody Skips [15:06]
6. Hotter Than Hell [17:42]
7. The Greatest [15:26]
8. Ghost in the House [7:07]
9. Credits [2:31]

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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
plmMO More than 1 year ago
It was great to find the DVD at a reasonable price so I could give it to my son. Seeing this originally on PBS he was greatly impressed by the story of a boxer he had never heard of but was so good. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in boxing or simply finding out about people one was never introduced to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this film! The music was wonderful, the narritive intelligent and the film footage exciting. Once again, Ken Burns outdoes himself. If you are a boxing fan this is a must see, if you are a history buff,you will love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was moved by the hatred whites had for this man. Even more amazing is how Congress changed laws because this man was traveling with white women. Then they jailed the man on trumped up charges. It was quite typical in that day. We have a long ways yet to go with seeing each person the same.
AnnaLermantov More than 1 year ago
One does not have to be fascinated by boxing to passionately love this extraordinary pice of work by Ken Burns. He captures the music, the age, the story, the man, the subject, the sport, the times in a way that only Burns is capable in doing. I watched it twice and have learned so much I did not know. Poignant and sad, uplifting and devastating, Jack Johnson was larger than life, refused to bend to societies mores and culture, and suffered profoundly because of it. Yet, he never lost his passion for life. His anger fueled his sport. The prejudice he endured few men ever had to experience. A phenomenal DVD!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have a regular and widescreen TV. On my regular TV, the picture is distorted and full screen. Only on the special features is it in letter box. On my widescreen TV, the picture is widescreen on just. This is the only DVD that wouldn't play as a widescreen picture on a normal TV. I guess that's what the 16x9 enhanced means in the special features. I also didn't like a lot of the fight footage they acquired. It's very grainy compared to what I've seen on ESPN.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jack Johnson's story is one that all sports fans and American history buffs must see. Joe Louis, Jack Robinson, Charlie Sifford, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Curt Flood, Arthur Ashe, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and especially Charles Barkley--all pioneers in their respective arenas--have benefited from the deeds of Jack Johnson. Come to think of it, American society has. Johnson was no saint; however, irreverent, audacious, athletic, cockily dapper, and articulate, Jack Johnson was a middle finger to the white supremacist establishment. Ken Burns shows us Johnson's intellect--even significantly deeper than James Earl Jones portrayed in the classic 'Great White Hope.' Burns properly exposes the honest racism of such powerful American influences as DW Griffith, Jack London, and President Woodrow Wilson--the so-called friend of self-determination. As well, Burns exposes the forces that Johnson had to counter in the black community. Ken Burns's employment of the aforementioned influences among many others gives viewers a sense of the society that Johnson had to face. Don't wince or press the eject button. We owe it to those who preceded us to watch their stories. While we Americans have come a long way since Johnson's time, we must watch this documentary to appreciate our progress.