General Marvel

Review: Josephine Baker

The late great Roger Ebert, once said that movies are “empathy machines”, exposing the world to itself.  These moving masterpieces on celluloid, elevate the human experience and even if it is just for a moment, makes the viewer empathize with people who are in worse situations than us. It also makes the viewer fantasize of how good life can be as well, as we watch how the wealthy savor life.  One example of how this medium made the audience empathize with its subject, is Lynn Whitfield’s portrayal of Josephine Baker.

The movie centers on Baker’s rise to fame and how cruel the world was to her once they no longer recognized her. The biggest accomplishment looking back at it, is letting the world know who she is and how indifferent they treat entertainers of color when they are no longer in the spotlight. It made me curious what did they leave out of the film. In Catel Muller and José-Luis Bocquet’s Josephine Baker, this creative team satisfied all my curiosities about her and then some.

In the opening pages, we meet Josephine Baker, shortly after she was born, which gives us background on who her family was. We see how she was raised by different maternal figures and even endured a short life as a type of indentured servant as a teenager. Her rise to fame and the many relationships she had throughout the years, shows just how easily not only these men did but the whole world fell for her. By book’s end, although her later years were not as melancholy as many of her peers, the reader will feel sorrow, knowing she deserved better.

Overall, an engaging, intimate, and exhaustive look into of the world’s greatest entertainment icon, that will leave the reader pouring through the pages more than once. The story by Muller and Bocquet makes this historical figure relatable and immortal at the same time. The art by Bocquet makes the reader feel like you are right there with Baker in Paris and Algiers. Altogether, an excellent biography which finally tells her story the way it should be told.

Story: Catel Muller and José-Luis Bocquet Art: Catel Muller
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

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