If you have never heard the name Sidney Poitier, I feel two emotions for you. I feel sadness because you have not had the pleasure of watching this icon of the screen act. And I feel jealousy because now you get to for the first time.
One of my favorite types of documentaries is about people and things that I know and love. That sounds obvious, I know. But few things are as calming as watching an hour and a half of people gushing over one of your favorite things. It’s why I love movie podcasts so much.
Sidney is a prime example of that sort of documentary pulled off well. Director Reginald Hudlin carefully tells the story of Academy Award Winner Sidney Poitier. He does so with an overwhelming sense of care and admiration for his subject which goes a long way in documentaries.
For nearly two hours, we get to hear from actors and actresses inspired by Poitier to do what they do. Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Spike Lee, Louis Gossett Jr., Harry Belafonte – they get to share their stories and their experiences with this much revered man to give a clearer image of who he was. But that’s not what makes the documentary so special.
In His Own Words
Earlier this year, Sidney Poitier, unfortunately, passed away. One positive that can be taken from this tragedy is that this film was completed before his passing. The reason that is so significant is because Poitier plays a strong part in the telling of his story. It happens far too often that the stories of legends are told only after their passing. While this was released after, it has a strong presence from the man himself. Using interview clips, the documentary is mostly told through Poitier himself. Allowing his words to then be supported by others interviewed.
One of the most fascinating sections of the documentary was hearing about the love-hate relationship that Poitier and Belafonte shared over the years. Going from chasing the same roles to admiring one another to not talking for years at a time. There was tension between the two constantly and hearing, from both men, their perspectives made for interesting storytelling.
I will admit that I was not the most knowledgable on Poitier before starting this movie. I had seen several of his movies and enjoyed all of them. And I knew he was the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Beyond that, I did not know about him. After watching Sidney, I have a much deeper understanding and respect for this legend of the screen. I have also added many films to my watchlist. If you consider yourself a fan of the history of Tinseltown, there is no better way to celebrate one of its biggest faces than by watching this movie.