1898 Silent Film Represents Earliest Depiction of On-Screen Black Love | Chicago News

The film is barely 30 seconds of silence.

Two actors, no words – and four on-screen kisses.

“These are not chaste kisses, they are quiet passionate kisses. And they’re having a lot of fun, they’re laughing, she coyly shakes her head,” says University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Allyson Nadia Field.

What may seem common by today’s movie standards was quite sensational when this film was made in 1898.

What’s more rare is that the two actors here are African-American.

“The representation of African-Americans in early cinema is replete with caricatures. Most of the time what you see are the kind of racists tropes that were very prevalent at the time, so: watermelon-eating contest, white people in blackface, black people in blackface. Gags that are predicated on…

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