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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The 24th is based on the true story of Black soldiers in the 24th U.S. Infantry Regiment who were involved in the Camp Logan Uprising in Houston in 1917. Violence includes police brutality, racially motivated beating and verbal bullying, two deaths via suicide, stabbing, shooting, friendly fire on soldiers, and desecration of corpses. A rape is discussed, and a woman's reputation is called into question due to the fact that she was raped. In addition to the fights between Black and White men, soldiers fight over women, "colorism," and class. The violence is likely to disturb many viewers, but none of it is gratuitous. The "N" word is used frequently in historical context. The movie has a theme of chivalry and protecting a woman's "honor," but in one scene, three men talk about a woman offering to perform oral sex on one of them in a bar. There are a few scenes of soldiers getting tipsy while out on the town and one scene of a very bitter man getting drunk and angry. Soldiers demonstrate integrity and courage, and there's a clear message that the human spirit can rise, even in tragedy.
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What's the story?
When THE 24TH begins, a group of Black soldiers is stationed in Houston, Texas, in 1917, working on construction projects. One of them, William Boston (Trai Byers), who was educated at the Sorbonne, has high ideals for helping to elevate his fellow soldiers and their race as a whole. The regiment's White commanding officer, Col. Norton (Thomas Haden Church), offers to send Boston for officer training, but he refuses; he doesn't want to be separated into an elite. The other men (especially a jaded, older sergeant and a romantic rival) don't trust Boston at first, but he gradually wins them over. The soldiers are harassed by the local White population, including the police force. Tensions come to a head when a soldier tries to defend a Black citizen from brutal police officers, which leads to armed conflict between the Black soldiers and White mobs. The film is based on a true story: Eleven civilians and four police officers were killed in the conflict. Four soldiers died by friendly fire, and one by suicide. Nineteen soldiers were later executed after being court-martialed.
Is it any good?
Disturbing but nuanced, with stunning naturalistic cinematography, this film is best suited for mature teens and adults. The 24th shines in the way every character is presented with depth. The justifiable rage and emotional scars of the Black soldiers show; none is a saint. And Norton, the helpful White character, isn't presented as a "savior" but rather as a man driven by his insecurities as well as a sense of right and wrong. Even the most despicably racist character gets a genuinely sympathetic backstory, which makes the story emotionally compelling rather than preachy.
Talk to your kids about ...
The soldiers mention many historical events that shaped their lives. Are there any you'd like to learn more about? Had you heard of the events featured in this film before watching?
How do the visual choices in the film communicate emotions?
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