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Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story 2008
Description: Based on real events, The Lena Baker Storyline recounts one African-American womans struggle to rise above the challenges of her life, to face the choices she makes, and to ultimately triumph over her...Lena Baker was the first and only girl to be sentenced to death by the electric chair in the state of Georgia and was executed in 1945. She was pardoned posthumously in 2005.
Released: 10 Apr 2008 Director: Ralph Wilcox Writers: Ralph Wilcox Actors: Tichina Arnold, Beverly Todd, Peter Coyote, Michael Rooker Genres: Crime, Drama, History
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Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story Reviews:

Here's a second, more sober and realistic review.This movie has a very made-for-TV quality, and despite a decent cast, the acting and script is quite plain and corny...the melody in particular is very hammy in some scenes (clearly the producers and directors thought gospel singing throughout quiet dialog scenes was needed to INSTRUCT the audience how to feel - a tag of poorly executed drama). The melody cues are horribly instructive and rob most of the scenes of genuine depth.It's everytime a shame when a worthwhile storyline is said so poorly, but this reeks of misconceived earnest intentions. You feel the desperation of the authors to elicit emotion, but it's so bogged down in contrived melodrama it misfires fully and will greatly disappoint anyone looking for an insightful racial drama.That IMDb score needs to come down a bit closer to reality..it's no Oscar material, that is most certain.


In the rush to produce the recent multi-million dollar, big-budgeted, sfx-filled, star-laden cinematic extravaganza, many distributors are missing the occasion to release movies of top quality that appeal to the emotional lvls of us all. Granted, film-making is a business and the bottom line is still profits. However, there is a huge audience that is seeking a nice storyline with a cast and team of talented specialists whose work is evident on the large screen.This audience can create a movie into a top-grosser, too."The Lena Baker Story" is a prime example of a movie that appeals to the moviegoer that wants a story, a genuine masterwork that was made by a filmmaker that truly understands movie and storytelling. Adapted from the ebook by Lela Bond Phillips, with assistance by Karan Pittman, and written for the screen by director Ralph Wilcox, the film is riveting from beginning to end. Saying the storyline of the happenings leading up and the eventual execution of impoverished South Georgia native Lena Baker in 1945, the film speaks to us all about such negatives as racism, abuse of women, poverty, and the imperfections of the legal system. However, the film also touches on such positives as the strength of the church, the unbinding love of family, and the find for justice, no matter how long the latter takes.Wilcox, himself an actor, has assembled a cast of well-known faces, as well as fresh ones, and they all have "come up to the plate" in their respective parts. Because of Wilcox's appreciation of the craft, there are no tiny parts in this film. Even the smaller roles let every actor a possibility to shine.Kaya Camp and Jasmine Farmer are outstanding in their respective roles of young Lena and young Nettie. They are also supported by first-time actor Lamar Perkins, Jr. as young Royal. A moving portrayal of a youngster showing off his reading ability is provided by young Christopher Hayward, Jr. Natalie Richardson and Santana Shelton in the roles of the teen-aged Lena and Nettie, respectively, are magnificent in their limited screen time.Along with the aforementioned performers, memorable turns are provided by helping users Susie Spears, Frank Roberts, and Deborah Callaway Duke.As far as the principal cast is concerned, they are as talented as talented can get. Chris Burns dons the "black hat" role of the son of the farmer Lena was forced to kill. Brown is quite effective, especially in the stage wherein he physically assaults Baker. Veteran massive Michael Rooker brings a bit of pathos to his "good-old-boy-sheriff" role and exemplifies how law officials of the past had to enforce convictions that they knew were wrong.Beverly Todd is captivating as Lena Baker's mother. Her part is one of quiet strength and love for her daughter and Todd tackles the role that only an actor of endless talent should do.Though his part may be considered the "villain" of the piece, Peter Coyote manages to convey a bit of sympathy as the abusive and alcoholic "Mr. Arthur." Because of Wilcox's perfect screenplay, viewers see in Coyote's part the "grays" that so many have, neither nice nor terrible but somewhere in the middle. Coyote, a longtime veteran of films and television, usually immerses himself in whatever role he takes and this time is no different.He is magnificent.Because Tichina Arnold is primarily known for her comedic roles in such tv fare as "Martin" and "Everybody Hates Chris," her role as Lena Baker is riveting. Each time that she is on screen, she owns it. She has managed to make one of the most memorable characters in cinematic history, a girl that due to the conditions of her surroundings and the times in which she lived, was forced to compromise her religious teachings and upbringing, ultimately being forced into a case that should only end tragically.Particularly effective is her first stage with Todd as mother and daughter are reunited after Lena's first brush with the law. Arnold is equally impressive in the final confrontation between Baker and Arthur, as well as the emotionally-draining scenes of the preparation for Baker's execution.A review of the movie would not be finished without giving credit to cinematographer Michael Shawn Lewallen and composer Todd Cochran. Lewallen has given the film's South Georgia zone shots the "look" of a more expensive production and few scenes present the expanse of the rural south most effectively. Cochran deftly combines traditional hymns with subtle underscoring that never overpowers a scene, providing the excellent musical accompaniment to a movie of such power.The movie is headed for Cannes soon this year and if there is any justice in this world, "The Lena Baker Story" could come back with a boatload of honors for the director/screenwriter, the producers, the unparalleled cast, and another contributors to this monumental cinematic achievement.


From the perspective of a Christian, I loved the gospel melody so much that I felt that the melody complimented the film even more. I am a gospel lover and I would like to know if there is a soundtrack? I also feel that the significance of this film was missed by some viewers. The church setting and God-Lovers who had no choice but to be disposed to Satan driven sin (rape, alcohol, sex slavery, lying, fornication, murder, racial hatred, lynchings, lust and everything else that is wrong with this world) are all in the Bible and the storyline line a (real-life movie) of what our ancestors endured during those times were just as true as the nose on our faces. Gospel melody - in my opinion- is an expression of God's Holy Bible and how Christians could live their lives. I cried when I saw how our ancestors were treated (like garbage) and the gospel melody made it that much reality. Please, Please, produce more films like this with gospel music. Back in the slavery era, God's Church and gospel melody was the only "Peace of mind" that our ancestors had from those who were obviously "satan-deceived." Hold up the perfect work of the truth. Please do not "sugar coat" how things were, if the gospel melody had not been added to this storyline line, especially since this is how it really was, then you would be short-changing Black History and the History of Gospel Music.A God - Loving Black Girl who Loves her Gospel Music!



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