Tupac: Resurrection (2003)

Regardless of your stance on Tupac Shakur or Hip-Hop as a whole, Tupac: Resurrection is an illuminating, affecting documentary that does a great job of alleviating preconceptions, highlighting a multifaceted personality and the tragic loss of one the most charismatic, beautiful souls to have ever walked this Earth.

Cobbled together from a series of interviews, Tupac tells his own story from beginning to end. He narrates over a similarly collaged set of footage. Newspaper articles highlight important text on his life, presumably new footage shows the people and places, music videos and stage performances he describes.

It’s a similar tact to the equally great American: The Bill Hicks Story (2009) but gains points for having ‘Pac illuminate his own struggles and triumphs and loses them for the sometimes uninteresting tapestry whittled together by aforementioned newspapers and still photos, where A:TBHS animated it’s story with much playfulness.

Besides the way in which the story is told, it is the story itself that is the main draw. As a fan of Tupac, I had vague ideas on what this story consisted of but the truth is even more astonishing and unfortunately saddening than I had thought.

Born to a high-level member of the Black Panthers with his father absent, his step father was a drug dealer and a gangster. This dichotomous upbringing springs through his life and is aptly highlighted by the film. Showing an early affinity for poetry and writing, the young Shakur was mesmerised by the television show Diff’rent Strokes in which a pair of young black brothers are taken in by a rich white man. Determined to live a life as charmed as those brothers on the screen, pursued a career in acting, eventually enrolling at the Baltimore School of the Arts.

His ascent was quick but marred by his undying connection to the streets. The film guides the viewer how he battled with press preconceptions, police brutality, tarnished relationships with women, stints in jail all the while campaigning for a “thug code”, for peace in the streets, for the end of poverty and for race equality. Amongst all this, he recorded 5 albums and enough material for posthumous albums to be released for years after his death. At the age of 25, he was shot dead having made an indelible mark on the world, be it via his community work, his acting in 8 feature films or the dozens of albums he put his verses to.

Like I said, fan or not this is an outstanding story highlighted by an arresting piece of documentary filmmaking and anchored by Tupac’s easy charm, his undeniable presence.

– Oliver Drew

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