Boycott is a simple yet eye-opening retelling of a familiar story which is made more powerful for its revelations. Who hasn't heard of Rev. Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks? Hardly anyone I imagine. But who has heard of Rev Ralph Abernathy, Jo Ann Robinson, E.D. Nixon, or Fred Gray? And did anyone know that at 26, Rev. Martin Luther King was elected President of the Montgomery Improvement Association - formed to organise the boycott - and was thrust into the limelight in that capacity?
Thus we have a truly compelling tale whose premise is that a group of essentially ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances responded with a sense of responsibility, courage and a passionate determination to fight prejudice using their experience of organisation and mass mobilisation. Notable are the performances - Jeffrey Wright's King is so perfect he's unrecognisable if you recall him from Bond or his equally powerful Basquiat - the number of very well-drawn characters, clearly thoughtful writing, a bold choice of cinematic techniques, and the struggles, man and weather-made, that the Montgomery Improvement Association faced. Unfortunately, there are no extras on the DVD which is a shame as the film leaves you keen to know more. It's based on the book Daybreak of Freedom: Montgomery Bus Boycott
which is pricey but also available.
More than a history lesson, Boycott weaves a wonderful tapestry of real people overcoming against all the odds. It acknowledges the overcoming of internal struggles: defeatism, fear, egos and cowardice are depicted alongside wisdom, sacrifice, courage, and solidarity. Boycott breaks down the myth of superhuman freedom fighters and pays homage to the tenacity of the human spirit. One would be hard-pressed to dislike and not learn something from Boycott and its made-for-TV status makes its accomplishment all the more impressive.