List Film

Borderline (3 stars)

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(12) 72min

Kenneth Macpherson’s film tackles issues of race and sexual triangles head on, and with a cinematic inventiveness, in keeping with the radical commitment of those involved. MacPherson was a renowned Marxist and many of those involved were either on the board of the magazine Close Up, or artists interested in social progress.

As white man (Gavin Arthur) continues to have an affair with the non-white Adah (Eslanda Robeson) her black husband Pete (Paul Robeson) tries to win her back. All the while, though, racist onlooker Astrid (Hilda Doolittle) is lusting after Pete, and her mindset can’t do much about her bodily desires.

In keeping with this feverish content, Macpherson looks like he’s absorbed Eisenstein’s rapid, montage style and maybe the best, if most flippant way, to describe it is as a combo of Soviet montage meeting Griffith-like melodrama. Here emphatic gestures collide with fast cutting, all to a Courtney Pine soundtrack.

DVD extras include an interview with Pine and free booklet.

Borderline

  • 3 stars
  • 1930
  • UK
  • 12
  • Directed by: Kenneth Macpherson
  • Written by: Kenneth Macpherson
  • Cast: Paul Robeson, Eslanda Robeson, Hilda Doolittle

An adulterous interracial affair causes a stir in a small town. Interesting issue melodrama of its day.

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