Borderline [DVD] 
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A film by Kenneth Macpherson
Borderline occupies a unique place in British cinema history. Kenneth Macpherson's masterpiece was made only a year after Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929) was made and it features iconic star Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda, as well as other members from the editorial board of the film journal Close up such as the poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Robert Herring and Bryher.
Heavily influenced by the psychological realism of G W Pabst and Sergei Eisenstein's montage, Bordeline is a matrix of racial and sexual tension moving between the boundaries of black and white, male and female and the conscious and the unconscious.
Featuring a new soundtrack by the masterful British composer and saxophonist Courtney Pine, Borderline'sformal experimentation finds a perfect match in the contemporary rhythms of Pine's heady modern jazz score
- Filmed interview with Courtney Pine
- Kenwin (1996) by Véronique Goël
- Close Up (1996) by Véronique Goël
- Trailers for Dreams That Money Can Buy (1948) and Pink Narcissus (1971)
UK | 1930 | black & white | silent with music | Optional hard-of-hearing subtitles on extras | 71 minutes | Ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD | 2 discs
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Top Customer Reviews
Judging from the notes that accompanies this DVD the only reason that the Robesons agreed to staring in this film was to amuse themselves at the expense of this bunch of self -indulgent (and self-deluded) bourgeois group: the POOL group. That isn't to pass judgement on Macpherson and his group. They were, no doubt, very sincere about their anti-racism. It is just that they could not see a world beyond their own parochial one.
As such, the viewer is made to feel like a voyeur. It seems as if we have gate-crashed a therapy session rather than a serious appraisal of a social issue. Things are given: you either accept it or you don't. There is little room for manoeuvre when it comes to the discussion of racism, sexism or gay rights (no doubt these people would have loved the social- issue-as-mental-health-problem, that peppers the etymology of social issues today; reducing racism or anti-gay pronouncements as `phobias').
But there is also something really beautiful about the film. Macpherson's constant close examination of Paul Robeson seems to suggest that, far from examining racism, he was more interested in the beauty of masculinity (sometimes Macpherson borders on portraying Robeson as the `sauvage noble'). And I found the film worked best on this level.Read more ›