Panther (film)

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Panther
Panther1995 movie poster.JPG
The movie poster for Panther.
Directed by Mario Van Peebles
Produced by Preston L. Holmes
Mario Van Peebles
Melvin Van Peebles
Screenplay by Melvin Van Peebles
Based on Panther by Melvin Van Peebles
Starring Kadeem Hardison
Bokeem Woodbine
Joe Don Baker
Courtney B. Vance
Marcus Chong
Tyrin Turner
James Russo
Nefertiti
M. Emmet Walsh
Music by Stanley Clarke
Cinematography Edward J. Pei
Edited by Earl Watson
Production
  company
Working Title Films
TriBeCa Productions
MVP Films
Distributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Gramercy Pictures
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • May 3, 1995 (1995-05-03)
Running time 123 min.
Language English
Box office $6,834,525

Panther is a 1995 film directed by Mario Van Peebles, from a screenplay adapted by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, from his novel of the same name. The film portrays the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, tracing the organization from its founding through its decline in a compressed timeframe. Creative license is taken but the general trajectory of the Party and its experiences is factual.

The film is notable for its strong cast: including US actors Angela Bassett, Chris Tucker, Bobby Brown and Chris Rock, who later became prominent in film and TV. Critics noted the strong resemblance of Marcus Chong to the historical figure, Huey P. Newton, whom he played.

Plot summary[edit]

The film focuses on the rise and decline of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, known as the Black Panthers, during the era of Black Power and disenchantment with passive resistance as a tool in the civil rights movement. It explores the FBI's COINTELPRO program, which was a farflung effort to track and disrupt African-American political movements.

The drama alleges that various Mob networks cooperated directly with U.S. intelligence (FBI/CIA) agency representatives to "flood" inner-city ghettos, which contained majority black populations, with hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The ending's structure and concluding voice-over alleges that The Mob (possibly Italian) in the United States agreed to produce and distribute quantities of these types of drugs on an unprecedentedly large scale. Purportedly, only agreed-upon "problem areas" of Black Panthers' potential support would be targeted, so as to "pacify" those populations.

The movies further suggests that the huge quantities of drugs quickly spilled out of the "problem areas" and became the drug epidemic in the U.S. of the 1980s and 1990s. The final lines shown in the film's closing note that in the 1970s, there were hundreds of thousands of hard-drug addicts, a number that had increased to the "3 million" of "yesterday". It is dedicated to the Black Panther Party's main figures, the communities that supported them, and those who might continue the struggle today.

Cast[edit]

Numerous actors who appear in the film later became prominent in the industry. Angela Bassett had gained praise for her portrayal a few years earlier as Betty Shabazz in Spike Lee's film, Malcolm X.

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Panther (soundtrack)

A soundtrack containing R&B and hip hop music was released on May 2, 1995, by Mercury Records. It peaked at 37 on the Billboard 200 and 5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was certified gold on July 25, 1995. Featured on the soundtrack was the single "Freedom (Theme from Panther)", a collaboration among more than 60 female R&B singers and rappers that peaked at 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Awards[edit]

Reproduction and sales[edit]

Panther is noted as being very difficult to locate and buy on DVD or VHS tape, although both versions do exist. Most copies are in Australian or other non-U.S. formats.

References[edit]

External links[edit]