REVIEW: The Pieces I am (Toni Morrison Documentary)
Toni Morrison is a national treasure. She is the award-winning author of The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, A Mercy, Jazz and a 2012 recipient of the presidential medal of freedom.
The 2019 documentary by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, The Pieces I am, reminds viewers WHY she is so revered
It should go without saying that Morrison has paved the way for many writers. You wouldn’t even be reading this blog post by me…an African American woman…if she hadn’t shattered the glass ceiling decades ago.
My aunt met Toni Morrison at a book signing once. She mentioned how even though she was cordial and signed every person’s book, there was a mystery about the Nobel Prize winner.
“Toni Morrison made certain facial expressions that weren’t easily comprehended”
After screening the documentary, I’m happy to say the veil of Morison has been lifted. We get to know the writer on a level that hasn’t been explored before.
Greenfield-Sanders managed to bring all the elements of a great documentary into a two-hour work of art that, for the most part, is skillfully structured but not so chronological that it becomes boring.
Throughout the film we hear from Angela Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Fran Lebowitz, Sonia Sanchez and Robert Gottlieb ( who was the editor of nearly all her novels) along with other colleagues and fans of her work.
Most importantly, we experience the bulk of the film in Morrison's own words through several clips and an extended interview
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FILM
Ok, this is obviously a super biased highlight but anytime I can hear Ms. Winfrey speak about anything, I’m all ears/eyes/smells etc.
Oprah expresses quite a few gems about Morrison, but my favorite is the story of the extreme measures she went through to meet Morrison and how the 1998 film "Beloved" came to life
The POWER of words
Morrison discusses two pivotal moments in her childhood that impacted the way she viewed words and reading. One story is of her grandfather, the 'rebel', who learned to read when it was illegal for people of color. Morrison's mother inadvertently taught her a lesson on words through showing her what NOT to say.
There are several clips and photos in the film that chronicle her narrative and at 88 years old, one thing has remained…. Morrison is unapologetically black, unapologetically woman and unapologetically…a…genius!
The Pieces I am is a beautiful declaration of love and appreciation for Toni Morrison. If you were a fan before, you will enjoy the film and reintroduction to her. If you have yet to read a novel by Morrison, well..what are you waiting for? Head to the theater to see The Pieces I am and immediately read her collection of work. IMMEDIATELY
THE PIECES I AM: 4 out of 5 hearts