Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2011
Directed by
Susanne Rostock
104 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Sing Your Song

Most people will know of Harry Belafonte as the handsome singer of “The Banana Boat Song",  the biggest hit of the 1950s American craze for calypso music, with its signature call: “Day…, Dayo…, daylight come and I want to go home” (the song was amusingly used by Tim Burton in Beetlejuice (1988). Susanne Rostock’s Sing Your Song does look at Harry Belafonte the entertainer but it is primarily an in-depth and first class look at a man who has committed his life to social justice.

Belafonte’s politicization began when he first encountered Jim Crow when touring the Southern states of America with a theatrical troupe in the 1950s and built to front-line involvement with the burgeoning civil right movement. As a celebrity entertainer he provided a significant point of liaison between Dr King and the white Establishment not least of whom were the Kennedy brothers.

Much of Sing Your Song is given over to these years. It is, needless to say a period that has been much covered, but Rostock who has been editing documentaries for years and is here making her directorial debut, marshalls her material well, using to-camera interviews with Belafonte, as well as voice-over narration, and archival television and film clips and still photography to portray the parallel strands of Belafonte’s life as a singer/entertainer on the one hand and a man deeply involved in the shifting Zeitgeist on the other. Even if you are well familiar with the period, the light that is shed on the role of popular entertainment in them is quite eye-opening.

Although far less thorough on the years after this time it is perhaps more inspiring to find out about Belafonte’s ongoing work, from his efforts to fight the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s to his present day work to end gang violence in Los Angeles. Now in his 80s, still vigorous and dashingly handsome his story is one well worth knowing. .




Want something different?

random vintage best worst