At the close of the 1970s Afro-American author James Baldwin started work on a revolutionary, personal book entitled Remember This House about three murdered friends who played key roles in the American civil rights movement: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King jr. and Malcolm X. Ultimately, the project was never finished, but the 30-page manuscript found after Baldwin’s death in 1987 constituted a point of departure for Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck to make a layered portrait of the author that centers on the latter’s unforgiving analysis of American society and in particular its racism.
Peck mainly lets Baldwin do the talking (Samuel L. Jackson provides the voice-over) and links the author’s words to footage and images from the past and present. For instance, he shows viewers archival footage of the protests in Birmingham in 1963 as well as the #BlackLivesMatter protests in Ferguson. He also juxtaposes John Wayne’s macho-heroism with Sidney Poitier’s asexual representation.