- 2 hr 3 min
Panther is a 1995 drama film directed by Mario Van Peebles, which takes place in Oakland, California during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the heart of the Black Panther Party. The film tells the story of the rise and fall of the revolutionary group founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, as seen through the eyes of a young black man named Judge, played by Kadeem Hardison. The Black Panther Party, formed in 1966, was a political organization that sought to empower African Americans and tackle issues such as poverty, police brutality, and racism. However, the group's confrontational tactics and revolutionary ideas often put them at odds with the government and led to a violent clash between the Panthers and law enforcement. The film opens with Judge, a young college student, attending a meeting of the Black Student Union where he first hears about the Black Panther Party. Despite his reservations about their tactics, Judge is drawn to the group's message and becomes a member. He quickly becomes involved in the Panther's activities, helping to organize community programs such as free breakfasts for children and medical clinics. As Judge becomes more immersed in the Panther's way of life, he witnesses firsthand the brutality and racism of the police towards the black community. This leads to a series of clashes between the Panthers and law enforcement, with both sides becoming increasingly violent. Throughout the film, the viewer is introduced to a number of Panther leaders and members, each with their own motivations and ideologies. Bobby Seale, played by Marcus Chong, is the co-founder of the party and a charismatic speaker who is often at odds with the more radical elements of the group. Eldridge Cleaver, played by Anthony Griffith, is a writer and intellectual who advocates for armed struggle and is exiled to Algeria after a shootout with police. The film also depicts the internal tensions and rifts within the party, which ultimately lead to its downfall. Huey P. Newton, played by Roger Guenveur Smith, is the party's leader and a complex figure who struggles with his own personal demons. Newton's relationship with a prostitute named Anita, played by Nefertiti, is a subplot that explores his inner conflicts. Meanwhile, the FBI, led by Agent Daryll, played by Joe Don Baker, is shown to be monitoring and undermining the Panthers at every turn. The government's counterintelligence program, known as COINTELPRO, is portrayed as a key factor in the party's decline. Overall, Panther is a powerful and thought-provoking film that sheds light on a pivotal moment in American history. It offers a nuanced and complex portrayal of the Black Panther Party and the social and political issues they fought to address. The film features an impressive cast of actors, led by Kadeem Hardison, who delivers a riveting performance as the viewer's guide to the world of the Panthers. Those interested in history, politics, and social justice will find much to appreciate in this film.