What does it mean to be a Revolutionary? Is it about being ready and willing to take up arms to meet the powers that be out in the street, or is it about strategizing on new ways to address the mounting social issues of the day? The Last Revolutionary, written by Levy Lee Simon, directed by Michael Brewer, and executive produced by John Marshall Jones addresses these issues and more. The question that is raised in the film, which is an adaptation of a play, is what approach is the wisest?
Starring John Marshall Jones and Lee Levy Simon, The Last Revolutionary tells the story of two old friends who went different ways in life. Both of them were radicals in the sixties, but while one finds a career and raises a family, the other dedicates his whole life to the Black struggle. Jones as Jack Armstrong, is the man who has focused on raising his family and securing their future. Simon, as Mac Perkins is the friend who is still about the cause, but is stuck in the past in many ways. The story revolves around these two friends arguing about how different things are from when they were both militants.
Jack spends his time trying to reason with Mac about his radical approaches, and Mac counters with the accusation that his friend Jack has turned his back on the struggle and sold out. These two characters act as a stand in for the ongoing conversation in the Black community about how to maneuver in life as a people dealing with American oppression. The dialogue is highly political, confrontational, and gets into issues like gang violence in Chicago, and the uprising in Ferguson. The recent activism of the last 6 years, which was initiated in the aftermath of the killing of Trayvon Martin in February of 2012 has galvanized many people. Black Lives Matter, which emerged in response to all of these developments, finds itself in a quandary. Does the movement proceed, risking the label of “Black Identity Extremist”, or does it fold itself into the dithering mess that is “The Resistance”? It is a live question, and this is what it evokes in this writer due to this film.
The film takes an interesting turn towards the end, and has a great message. It shows that regardless of the approach, we are in a struggle not of our choosing, like it or not. Given the times we find ourselves in now, it is a powerful message for Black people living with the reality of Trump’s America. The Last Revolutionary is a good film, and can springboard a lot of discussions.
The Last Revolutionary will be available on Amazon February 1st, 2018.