Blaxploitation cinema revisited
Melvin Van Peebles has passed away at the age of 89
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The blaxploitation movies of the 1970s emerged out of the civil rights and Black Power movements and represented the first real explosion of American cinema dominated by, for, and about communities of color. With Black audiences craving their own riffs on genre cinema, these films enjoyed incredible success, mostly between 1972 and 1975. The genre's audience appeal soon broadened across racial and ethnic lines, and Hollywood took notice. So too did the music industry: blaxploitation films were the first to feature soundtracks of funk and soul music! Meanwhile, some of the era's most popular stars, actors like Richard Roundtree and Pam Grier, went on to enjoy mainstream success.
The genre's legacy endures. Filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, and the late John Singleton have drawn on blaxploitation's enormous and complicated influence on American cinema as reference while making their pictures.
Melvin Van Peebles was one of the earliest and most influential creators in the genre and is remembered as the "Godfather of Black Cinema." He passed away on Tuesday, September 21, at the age of 89. His influence on cinema and culture in the 1970s was immense, and he is even credited with creating the blaxploitation genre with his 1971 movie 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.' Van Peebles was an actor, director, writer, musician, and painter. He created acclaimed works in both cinema and theater. The New York Times once described him as “the first Black man in show business to beat the white man at his own game,”
Click through the following gallery and start digging some of the most influential blaxploitation movies ever made.
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