John Cassavetes’ hugely influential improvisation centers on three black siblings – although the sister has much lighter skin than her brothers – leading a Bohemian life in New York. The electric atmosphere and edgily naturalistic performances combine with free-focus black and white camerawork and Charles Mingus’ bluesy score to evoke the jazzy soul of a city.
Barry Adamson: “Directed by John Cassavetes, Shadows is a film that studies interracial relationships around the time of the beat generation. Liela, a young light–skinned African American falls for somewhat shallow white musician Tony when they meet at a party, but Tony is surprised when he meets her older brother and realises she is black. Charles Mingus recorded three hours of music, which is used extensively in the first version then re-written by Shafi Hadi – Mingus’ sax player – for the second and bears witness to the term Jazz Cinema.”