Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: "Tupac: Resurrection" is the Story of Tupac by Tupac (Happy B'day, Tupac)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 14 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tupac: Resurrection (2003)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong language and images of drugs, violence and sex
DIRECTOR: Lauren Lazin
WRITER: Lauren Lazin (treatment)
PRODUCERS: Karolyn Ali, Preston L. Holmes, and  Lauren Lazin
EDITOR: Richard Calderon
Academy Award nominee


Starring: (voice) Tupac Shakur (archival)

Released theatrically in late 2003, the Lauren Lazin-directed documentary Tupac: Resurrection earned a 2005 Oscar nomination in the category “Best Documentary, Features.” The film is a look at Tupac Shakur’s life, especially his time in the public eye, and the story is told through Tupac’s own words. Ms. Lazin and her fellow filmmakers compiled the Tupac: Resurrection from home movies, photographs, and video and film footage from interviews, concerts, and news stories, as well as images and video recordings taken behind the scenes on video shoots, on film locations, and any place Pac went, lived, and played. Tupac: Resurrection’s narration is provided by Tupac himself via archival audio from the video and film footage used for this film, as well as from interviews, journal readings, poetry recitations, etc.

Tupac was a compelling figure and remains so even after his (some would say alleged) death, murdered by an unknown gunman. The film is riveting precisely because Tupac was and still is hard to ignore and an extremely controversial public personality. Tupac often said he’d be shot and murdered, so he often seemed to be speaking as if he were observing a life already lived. That makes listening to the archival audio eerie because it really seems as if he is speaking from beyond the grave, but Ms. Lazin deserves the credit for pulling off this kind of posthumous autobiography.

Tupac narrating his rise to fame is entrancing; he seems so ambitious and hopeful in spite of his early poverty and surroundings. It is, however, disappointing to watch fame turn him into a paranoid and arrogant celebrity jerk. When he was on the rise, the contradictions of his embrace of violence and misogyny and hope for peace and respect can be viewed as the inconsistencies of a young man struggling to form a philosophy or an ideology for his life. Later, when his legal troubles mount, and he publicly feuds with enemies, both real and imagined, he just seems sad, lost, and without an adequate support system – destined for an extra tragic end.

Still, Ms. Lazin should be commended for this fine film. It’s amazing both that every bit of this film is archival material and how she is able to give such a complete picture of the public figure that was Tupac. In fact, many public figures probably don’t realize how complete a portrait of their public lives can be made from publicly available visual footage and how those portraits of them may not be how they want to be remembered. Ms. Lazin, however, made an honest documentary in which the filmmaker really allows the subject to reveal himself… even from beyond the grave. Would Tupac like what he sees, or would he even care?

8 of 10

2005 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Documentary Features” (Lauren Lazin and Karolyn Ali)

2004 Black Reel Awards: 3 nominations: “Film: Best Theatrical” (Paramount Pictures); “Film: Best Song” (Tupac Shakur-performer and The Notorious B.I.G.-performer for the song "Runnin' (Dying to Live)"), and “Film: Best Soundtrack”


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