THADDEUS FIGHTS THE POWER!

Directed by Danielle Bayley-Hay. UK. 2002.



 
 
 

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Thaddeus (Kieran Phillips) is a 15-year-old boy who has to choose between going with his Dad who is a travelling musician or with his Mum who is moving back to her native Paris. He finds it hard to make-up his mind and seeks advice from his schoolmates and from the customers and staff at the barbershop where he works part-time.

Thaddeus Fights The Power!The barbershop is amusing because the men have rather fixed ideas about women and they like pulling Thaddeus’ leg. As in other parts of the film the characters here are given a brief on-screen caption, and here the most eloquent person is sub-titled ‘The Poet’.

Besides captions, this 17-minute film packs some colourful special effects to highlight parts of the action. This is particularly effective when Thaddeus runs away from some street bullies where he’s shown going through a colourful tunnel. The tunnel evokes a sense of evil and fear as if he’s travelling through a corridor of hell. 

This use of special effects, animation, captions combined with a rap and reggae soundtrack from Suncycle Productions all reflect Thaddeus’ confused state-of-mind.

Danielle Bayley-HayUnknown black actor Kieran Phillips plays the part of Thaddeus with quiet authority. Many of the other members of the cast are also untrained, young actors. This is part of Irie Entertainment Productions’ project to provide good roles for black people in film and TV. The production company was founded by top model-turned actress Danielle Bayley-Hay who began drawing from her own experiences to write, direct and produce her own material, and founded Irie Entertainment in November 2000. The company’s first film, Like Me… has already secured distribution with Omni Short films in Los Angeles and has been featured on ITV’s Artworks programme. 

What I like about the film is that it is reflective and humorous. Thaddeus’ life has playful and serious elements that are drawn-out in the female-space of his mother’s apartment and the masculine space of the barbershop.

For a film set in Harlesden, London, which has a reputation for gang crime, shootings and deprivation it would have been easy to make a bleak story of social exclusion and urban alienation. Instead, Harlesden is treated as a normal part of Thaddeus’ life. 

Thaddeus Fights The Power! is like an out-take from a longer soap opera series. I don’t mean that in a critical manner either. It shows us a story from the streets that neatly reveals the concerns of an average teenage boy. It makes you smile rather than cry.
 

Thaddeus Fights The Power! is available on VHS from 3 March 2003.
 

Nigel Watson
 
 
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