William Greaves "Just Doin' It" (1976)
Sonja Bahn-Coblans, Arno Heller
William Greaves "Just Doin' It" (1976). An Analysis
ISBN 3-88476-263-X, 82 S., kt., € 11,00 (1997)
(Studien zum amerikanischen Dokumentarfilm, Bd. 7)
William Greaves's 27-minute color film Just Doin' It alternates between two barbershops run by and serving Black Americans in Atlanta, GA, during the 1970s. In the style of direct cinema the film catches the atmosphere, the conversations, and the daily activities of the barbers and their customers and ends in a church service where the community comes together and one of the barbers is the minister. The first impression is one of lightheartedness, easy-going humor, tolerance, and a lively interest in Black ways of living and thinking. However, the randomness and simplicity of place and topic turn out to give a wide-ranging insight into Black American society, culture, and world politics in which an increasing seriousness of themes corresponds to an increasing complexity of film and editing techniques. The message seems to be that resistance and regeneration for Black America lies not in radical protest or violent action but in the everyday realization of solidarity and community feeling, in other words, in "just doin' it."
An introduction to William Greaves's life and work, a transcript of the film, as well as an interview with Greaves complement the analysis of the film.