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Song of Freedom

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Song of Freedom
Knowing that this film Song of Freedom was made in 1936, I was very surprised to see how the film was formed. When watching this film, I based it upon what I grew up learning about segregation between whites and blacks and how difficult and long it took for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to pass. Not knowing much about European countries, I was confused to see that black and whites were working together and better yet sharing hobbies with one another such as singing.
While watching this musical film, I realized that it strongly relates to what we are learning in this Pan African Studies course. What I saw that really caught my attention was Paul Robeson playing John Zinga’s character. In this film, John was a great example of twoness. John was an African American man that grew up in London and was unsure about where he came from exactly. He never had a true understanding of what type of person he was which was why he strived to reach his goal of returning to Africa. John was caught between what he grew up learning which was westernized and the African traditions he was born with.
Although this film was not allowed to be aired in the United States, I feel that it sent out a really strong message to people which is a sense of respect and friendship between blacks and whites. I also strongly believe that it changed many people’s views about racial segregation and got people to be more accepting about the changes that were made in society. In addition, even though Song of Freedom may cause a big uproar if it were allowed to play in the film industry in the United States, I still believe that it would have ended slavery and segregation much sooner by helping people realize through visualization.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film in the way it used music from the start of the film and incorporated it into the end. Instead of not having a clear storyline like most musicals, Song of Freedom had a purpose to the songs that were sung which ultimately distinguished the theme, purpose, and meaning of the film. In addition, I feel that the authors of this film did a great job in incorporating a lot of symbolism and visuals to emphasize and to help us as the audience understand the setting of the different scenes as well as point out the most significant factors of the film itself. For example, the only thing John brought with him to England from Africa was an ancestral medallion and a rhythm to a song. The medallion John wore was an ancestral item that helped lead him exactly back to where he came from. It was the first step in helping him establish his other half of being African. Furthermore, John put in his own lyrics to a song that he couldn’t find the exact words to and eventually comes to an understanding that the song he has been singing for years played a strong role in defining what kind of family he came from. The so called “king” song not only help establish that he was a descendant, but also helped him gain the respect of his people in Africa with the acceptance of his western traditions.
Toward the end of the film, John Zinga displays a change in his character. I noticed that when John was first performing, he was not himself in the way he was presented because he did what others wanted him to do. However, after John returned from Africa as king, he decided to do one last performance, and when doing so, I was able to differentiate that he was much more confident about himself than he was toward the beginning of his musical career because of how he was dressed and portrayed on stage. Ultimately, John Zinga transformed into a complete different man, one who knows and feels confident about himself, as well as someone who knows could greatly influence his community and make a change.

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