PRESSURE

Director: Horace Ové

1975, 126 min., NR

 

Horace Ové’s fiction-film debut marks a watershed in the history of British cinema: the nation’s first feature to be written and directed by a Black filmmaker and the first to focus on the perspective of Black characters. Ové and novelist Sam Selvon’s gritty script centers on teenage Tony (Herbert Norville), caught between his Trinidadian parents’ (Lucita Lijertwood and Frank Singuineau) desire to attain middle-class respectability in London and his older brother Colin’s (Oscar James) urging to join the Black Power movement. After encountering racism while hanging out with a white girl and searching for employment, Tony finds comradeship with a group of aimless Caribbean boys, only to discover that their petty criminality is a dead end. Ové depicts Tony’s subsequent political awakening in captivating vérité style as he realizes that taking on the system will invite not only violent police oppression but also a thorough examination of his own values and beliefs. Suffused with the political outrage and explosive rebellion of 1970s London, Pressure is a marvel of lived-in independent filmmaking that captures Black working-class solidarity while refusing easy solutions to social problems—like income disparity, juvenile delinquency, racial profiling—that remain relevant today.


«