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841 Ratings

Within Our Gates

Directed by Oscar Micheaux
United States, 1920
Drama, Romance


Sylvia Landry, a teacher at a school for impoverished black children in the Deep South, takes a fundraising trip to Boston upon learning that the institution is nearly bankrupt. There she meets Dr. Vivian, who travels back south with Sylvia after falling in love with her.

Our take

One of the earliest surviving works of African-American filmmaking, Oscar Micheaux’s remarkable drama offers a vivid tapestry of the intricacies of the Black experience. A pioneering independent director, Micheaux’s mesmerizing vision acts as a gut-punching indictment of systemic racism in America.

Within Our Gates Directed by Oscar Micheaux

Critics reviews

A boldly bifurcated story, complexly told using flashbacks, cut-aways, memories, a North/South geographic divide, and dreamed visions of nightmarish reality.
August 10, 2019
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Oscar Micheaux’s bold, forceful melodrama, from 1919—the oldest surviving feature by a black American director—unfolds the vast political dimensions of intimate romantic crises. . . . Heaven as a reward for their unquestioning submissiveness. Micheaux’s narrative manner is as daring as his subject matter, with flashbacks and interpolations amplifying the story; a remarkable twist regarding Sylvia’s identity, slipped in at the end, opens up a nearly hallucinatory historical vortex.
December 22, 2017
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Micheaux’s film is significant not only for its place within American film history, but also for the way it displays the complexity of race relations between people and regions.
February 08, 2013
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