HBO Films presented its newest movie, “Native Son” at The Guggenheim Museum at its New York City Premiere.
Having premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Native Son takes a unique and modern approach in retelling the story of Richard Wright’s famous novel that was originally written in 1939 and published in 1940. This film marks Rashid Johnson’s- a visual artist- film making debut and was notably written by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright, Suzan-Lori Parks. Native Son centers upon an African-American man named Bigger Thomas who takes a job as a chauffeur for an affluent white Chicago family. However, rather it leading to positive moves in his life, it instead leads to tragic and unforeseen consequences that audiences would not expect to encounter while watching the movie.
While covering the red carpet, we got to speak with the cast about key elements of the movie and the meaning behind Native Son. Being that the movie is set in contemporary times, you see Bigger Thomas, played by actor Ashton Sanders, into both punk music and Beethoven- unlike the other black men in his neighborhood. As viewers watch Native Son, they’ll begin to realize that the film hints at various issues within the African-American community. It shares the pressures of being a black man in America while also being this eccentric, Afro-punk young man in a tough Chicago neighborhood. Although other noticeable aspects of the movie have changed because we’re in the year 2019, these common issues however are still relevant in today’s society.
When speaking to director Rashid Johnson, he stated that he wanted audiences to take away with them a plethora of messages once they left the theater. Since Native Son is a coming-of-age film, there isn’t just one message viewers can walk away with; the goal, however, is to examine the aspects of the black psyche in America. Although a distinctive title, Native Son implies a person of his community, for his community.
Make sure to catch Native Son on HBO on April 6th.
Dorothy Hong/Team Epiphany