PTBMTRADER'S PETER TOSH articles -Lesley Vollmer-
|PTBMTRADER'S PETER TOSH articles|
Cinematic Interpretation of "Stepping Razor Red X": the Peter Tosh Story
Films are designed for numerous purposes, some entertain, frighten, enlighten, educate, inspire, and most make us think about the world we live in. This paper will be focused on the cinematic interpretation of the film "Stepping Razor Red X", the Peter Tosh Story. The makers of a film from the writer, director, cinematographer and the art director, design, and conceptualize what they want the viewer to see.
Movie makers have agendas. They get their ideas across by using cinematic techniques and styles which make us view a certain subject in the light that they put it in. I will discuss the differing techniques used by the makers of "Stepping Razor" and describe what the overall impression of the movie has on the viewer, and what the agenda of the director is.
"Genre: A group of films having recognizably similar plots, character types, settings, filmic techniques, and themes." (Konigsberg:165) The Genre of this film is difficult to define because it is not composed of a single agenda. The director makes a point of talking about Tosh's life, but because of the cinematic themes and the film's style it is not solely a documentary. This film is also a multimedia film because elements of music and concert footage are added to the essential plot. This film is avant-garde in it's nature. "Avant-garde [refers to films that] deny the traditional narrative structure and techniques of commercial films by seeking to explore new modes of visual and emotional experience." (Konigsberg:25) It could be considered an anthology film, because of the various concert footage that is woven throughout the movie. "An Anthology film is a full length film made up of excerpts from other films which are related by some theme [or] the appearance of the same performer." (Konigsberg:16)
"Stepping Razor" also has elements of Cinema Verite. "Cinema Verite...applies to a series of documentary films which strive for immediacy, spontaneity, and authenticity through the use of portable and unobtrusive equipment and the avoidance of and preconceived narrative line or concepts concerning the material." (Konigsberg:57) "Stepping Razor" may also be put under the category of art film. "Art film [is] a type of film with serious artistic intentions as distinct from the commercial films made in Hollywood."(Konigsberg:20) This film also has elements of a propaganda film. "Propaganda films [are] made with the intention of persuading the audience to a particular point of view concerning the subject...relying on the apparently real and factual nature of the images on the screen and often using an authoritative voice-over to sway." (Konigsberg:315)
Babylon Hollywood Shitstem
Bordwell and Thompson assert that within Hollywood movies there is a generalized sequence and style of the way a movie is made (Bordwell & Thompson:64). The elements of classical Hollywood cinema are: causality and consequence, a psychologically motivated character, the drive towards overcoming an obstacle, achieving a goal or goals and closure. (Bordwell & Thompson:64) There are however many film genres which defy the norm of Hollywood standards. "Stepping Razor Red X" defies Hollywood standards in numerous ways which this paper will elucidate. Refer to Appendix B for further explanation of film terminology.
The movie experience from a critical perspective
I interviewed a film student by the name of Zul Atmosudirdjo. Zul gave me background information on some of the major filmic techniques used in movies. As we watched "Stepping Razor" together, he explained the components of film as expressed to him by his film professor: Frank Manchel of UVM. Two major components of a movie experience are the psychological and the intellectual. The psychological component revolves around the emotional reaction of the viewer to the movie. The intellectual component revolves around the agenda of the movie and whether or not it is persuasive; the viewer decides whether they agree or disagree with the movie's message or content.
When critics review movies they are preparing other viewers for what is in store for them. Critics like the common viewer perceive both the psychological and emotional aspects of movies. Their opinions and criticism of movies are subjective. The critics had mixed reviews when it came to "Stepping Razor" Some were looking for more detail of his life, some expressed the feeling that the recreation of his death was cliché. Still other critics wanted resolution at the end of the movie; claiming that the murder wasn't solved or that the director failed to convince his audience of something.
Steve Morse said of Stepping Razor "Director Nicholas Campbell develops a cinematic flow as intoxicating as Tosh's music. There are some needless studio recreations of the way Tosh was murdered (why use such contrived biopic methods?), but most of this is an inspiring, heart filled documentary." (Boston Globe 9-1-1993) Stephen Holden comments on the style of the movie; "In evoking his childhood, the film maker unfortunately resorts to often slick, advertising images like that of a child running on the beach, silhouetted. More impressionistic than historical." (New York Times 8-20-1993)
Fred Shuster asserts, "The film does not spend enough time on the Wailers. There is an excellent segment of the Marley Band playing 'Concrete Jungle', but how Tosh came to join and then leave the band was never fully realized." (Courier Journal KY 12-17-1993) Louis B. Parks was also not fully satisfied with the film; "In the end Stepping Razor suggests that Tosh was a tremendously complex and conflicted man, but it fails to demonstrate whether he was worthy of being called the Jamaican Malcolm X." (Houston Chronicle 2-4-1994)
Jack Garner says, "Campbell also explores the colorful, eccentric Rasta culture and spends much time examining the facts and conjectures of Tosh's death. Though much is suggested, beyond basic burglary, nothing definitive is established." (Garnett News Service 11-4-1993) The Director Nicholas Campbell addresses the critics who claim he did not make a successful documentary, when he says, "Solve the murder? [Campbell said] You can't do that." (Seattle Times 7-8-1993)
I think that because the filmmaker, Campbell broke so many genre rules, and could not contain himself to making this film by using the techniques of any single genre, the critics could not deem it successful by their standards. I believe the Babylon Hollywood Shitstem has affected their view of this film. When the critics were watching this film they were obviously looking for a cookie cutter documentary or a musical anthology. When they did not find what they expected, or were confused by the surreal filmic time of the film, they put the film under Hollywood scrutiny because it did not fit any one mold. Ironically neither did Peter Tosh.
You never get a second chance to make a 1st impression
The movie experience begins with the tittle of a film. "Stepping Razor Red X": the Peter Tosh Story from this we derive who the story is about, what topics it might contain, and a we get an emotional reaction from the title. "Stepping Razor Red X" to a viewer unfamiliar with Tosh this might create a sense of fear or wonder of why these words were used. They have a harsh connotation, they connote danger, violence and mystery. The title of a film defines a viewers expectations.
In the first five minutes of any film the viewer is given all the information needed to make connections necessary to interpret the content of the film. In the introduction, setting and a character are usually established. Thus it is of utmost importance what the first images and audio of a film are composed of. In "Stepping Razor" the introduction montage begins with a visual still image of Tosh color cast in red. The written quote superimposed on the image of Tosh reads: "Vampires don't come out and bite your neck any more...They cause something destructive to happen. That blood will spill...And those invisible vampires will get at their heals-Peter Tosh 1987, the year of his murder."(SR)
The montage continues showing a shot of a bonfire, then a dark smoky room, a musical achievement award won by Tosh, and a memorial rock painted in tribute to Tosh. The first shot with synchronous audio is Tosh speaking directly from the Red X Tapes. Tosh is back lit from this scene, which provides the viewer with their first glimpse of the main character, but due to the lighting Tosh is portrayed as a shady figure, dark, and enigmatic, because the viewer does not see him lighted from the front, the viewer can not see him completely. This adds to the mystery and intrigue of the cinematic portrayal of Tosh.
Tosh's voice from Audio #1 the Red X Tapes:
"What as it was designed by Jah who sent me here to help to alleviate, to turn the filth and corruption that my people have been inoculated with it's only my duty to teach those who will learn."(SR)
Consecutively after this quote there is another still image of Tosh as a young man, this image is also color cast in red. The writing superimposed on the image is:
"Peter Tosh recorded what he called the Red X tapes... These tapes were to form the basis of a biography called Red X... It seemed that whenever he saw his name on any official document, he saw it marked with a red X... The tapes were uncovered in July 1990. These are the actual Red X tapes." (SR)
Audio #2 from the Red X tapes follows this image:
"That's the beginning of my days at war, the beginning of world war I with the devil." (SR)
From the introduction of the film the viewer can asses from the quote written by Tosh that he felt that he was persecuted, the mention of vampires may be literal or figurative but the theme of persecution is evident. In the Audio from the Red X tapes we hear Tosh speaking, his words are almost prophetic in their nature. He claims he was sent by God to help his people, and he asserts that he is at war with the devil. This again could be interpreted literally or metaphorically but we get the idea that he believes he is fighting an important battle. From this we develop expectations of what themes we will see in the film.
The art of cinematography and "Stepping Razor"
The director: Nicholas Campbell employs numerous cinematic techniques which engage the viewer. The director did not intend to solve the mystery of Tosh's death in this film. On the contrary he intended to establish the perceptions of Tosh; Who he was and how he died. I believe that Campbell was trying to make a statement about the truth through his film. The truth being that Tosh was more than just a Reggae Star. He presented the many different sides of Peter Tosh, through an artistic documentary style film.
The film is basically broken up into segments by the use of punctuation points. These punctuation points are the Audio from the Red X tapes and the still images color cast in red with superimposed text. Between these punctuation points are sequences consisting of interviews, concert footage, reenactments and artistic montages.
The director is trying to convey to the viewer that there were many different aspects to Peter Tosh. In a sense this is the propaganda of the film, if we are to believe all that Campbell portrays. He portrays Tosh as a Prophet, Tosh as a Revolutionary, Tosh as a Teacher, Tosh as a Reggae Icon, Tosh as a Rude Boy, and Tosh as a Persecuted Man. Thus it is hard to maintain a continuity within the film.
The discontinuity of the film is evident in the style of cutting of shots, and abrupt editing. The alternative use of filmic time adds to the sense of discontinuity of the film. The arrangement of time and events in Tosh's life are not in chronological order. The director uses this to his advantage. Through the use of flash backs and flash forwards we are given a foreshadowing glimpse into Tosh's death, and we are able to relive it again and again as it comes up throughout the different themes being portrayed in the film.
Peter Tosh: Prophet, Preacher, and Prescient
The director visually illustrates of what kind of religious background Tosh grew up with as a child. The montage sequences of churches and children singing in the pews, gives us a visual association to go along with the narrative clips from the Red X Tapes. Audio #10-13 (refer to Appendix A) Tosh is speaking of the Christian teachings he received as a youth. He expresses his anger over the racism and inequity found in Christianity. From this we can derive that he did not believe the Christian idea of God.
I found an interesting metaphorical parallel within the film between Tosh and Jesus. In Audio #6 Tosh talks about being illegitimate. From the interview with Tosh's father we ascertain that he did not have a father in this life. Jesus had an absentee father as well. This may sound far reaching but I am making the connection because of the way Tosh portrays himself in concert and in recollection.
In much of the concert footage that is interwoven in the film Tosh is wearing Messianic gowns and robes, and a headdress. The same clothing is what we might imagine Jesus to have worn. Thus he is portraying himself through the use of wardrobe as a sort of Prophet.
There is another very interesting association which might lead the viewer to see Tosh as a spiritual Prophet akin to Jesus. This is depicted in the montage along with Audio #8. Tosh recollects a time when he says: "the devil tried to blind me with barbed wire...I wept blood from my eyes."(SR) This is a metaphor for a stigmata experience. The visual montage shows a child that would have been Tosh's age at the time of the event, running into the barbed wire. The shot fades into a close up of the barbed wire. The barbed wire is the guiding shot through out this sequence. The montage continues to an extreme close up of an eye, showing the red of the veins within the eye itself and ends with the reverse shot of the boy walking away from the barbed wire. This is powerful imagery which goes to support Tosh's story.
The most powerful persuasion shown in the film that Tosh was some sort of spiritual prophet is the sequence where Tosh is talking about being paralyzed. The Audio in this sequence is dissimilar to that of the Red X tapes.
Quote from scene as spoken by Tosh:
"I was attacked by evil forces, seen, spiritual evil forces that caused my mouth to cease from function, caused my hands and legs to cease from moving. It was only my mind that was at function and my two eyes and I was on the brink of what you call DEATH. I was wondering if I was paralyzed. At that moment it caused me to make some inner communication, cause that was the last resort, so I made some inner communication and that inner communication caused me to get more confidence that there is a creator that dwells within man seen. So I begin to ask him this question, what must I do, ask, what should I do? Just lie in this bed and get up tomorrow and wind up dead. The spirit say move your bumbaclot! Me say what? He say don't hesitate you're on the countdown, in the countdown it's like a hard tree. And when one, as I say, move your, when I say BUMBACLOT! and fire out like bumbaclot immediately every spell was released."(SR)
The visual sequence that goes along with this audio is very compelling. It is in the form of a dream like reenactment. Most of the shots are color cast in blue. Blue is the most common color for dream sequences. In this sequence the guiding shot is a man with short hair color cast in blue whose head falls and then goes into reverse shot when his head rises back up. This is the same shot from the beginning of the movie where the director used reenactment to depict Tosh's murder. In the beginning however the mans head falls down after a gunshot is heard.
In the dream sequence this shot is used to symbolize a wake up call because the shot is used in reverse. There is also another man lying paralyzed on the bed. This shot is used to illustrate Tosh. At this moment Tosh speaks of the spirits instructions to "move your bumbaclot" there is a still image of a silhouetted boy holding a gun. This metonymy image is used to represent a call to arms. When Tosh calls out "BUMBACLOT", the man on the bed is shown sitting up. The man who arises from the bed is not the same man shot in reverse. The man arising from the bed has dread locks. This symbolized Tosh's life changing event wherein he becomes a Rastafarian.
In my interview with Zul Atmosudirdjo, Zul actually related to the experience Tosh had. Zul is a descendant of a lineage of Indonesian shaman. He told me that he had a similar experience where he was sitting and all of a sudden he felt an evil spirit pressing down on him. He likewise could not move his limbs. He was however able to say a prayer in his thoughts and the spirit was lifted. This insight into the phenomena of sitting ghosts proved to be very enlightening. It also provided me with a documented account of a sitting ghost, which helped me to see that Tosh's experience was quite real.
Peter Tosh: A Revolutionary at War
The director illustrates the many causes that Tosh fought for and represented. It is made evident from the songs and concert footage in the film that Tosh was a loud voice crying out for justice. Footage of a shooting at an apartheid protest is shown and over it is the played the Tosh song "Fight against Apartheid". He spoke out in opposition to the One Love Concert at one of his own concerts asserting that he didn't want peace, Tosh said; "peace is the diploma you get in the cemetery."(SR) This goes to show how adamant he was about gaining equality for his people through a pay back form of equity.
It is shown in the film that Tosh was a proponent for the use and legalization of marijuana. This is evident from the blatantly titled album "Legalize It." In a sound clip from an interview with Tosh he talks about his confrontation with the police for possession of marijuana, and the brutality that ensued because of that offense. He spoke out in public, in a country where the legalization of marijuana is highly controversial, saying while smoking, on a television broadcast clip; "This was crated by the creator it has spiritual botanical agents It's a tetrahide you can't deny. It's anti-fungus, anti-virus, anti-trignosis, and anti-dote."(SR)
In Audio #23 Tosh speaks about the war closest to his home. This statement illustrates his feeling on the issue of oppression. The circle of oppression which afflicts the Rastaman which is designed by the people in power. In "Stepping Razor" various people comment on the manner in which Tosh chose to fight what he called the shitstem. Mutabaruka said that he was like Malcolm X. Dermot Hussey, a journalist, said that his weapons were his lyrics. Both of them elude to Tosh as a revolutionary and Tosh as a warrior against a system of bureaucratic oppression.
Tosh's words were powerful, throughout the film it is shown how he used his words to incite revolution in the Jamaican people. He even named his band: Word Sound and Power. In "Stepping Razor" Bongo Israel, a Nyabinghi elder says Word Sound and Power is the symbol of man; the weapon that is used to fight Babylon.
Peter Tosh: Music Teacher and Truth Teller
In the clips used from the Red X tapes Tosh talks about the truth in a very prophetic and visionary way. From the very first audio clip we hear Tosh say Jah sent him to help his people; teach those who will learn. There is a noble and divine connotation to his mission. He speaks of the truth many times throughout the film. It seems that for Tosh speaking the truth is part of his mission. In Audio #17 Tosh speaks about the truth concerning oppression and in Audio #18 Tosh says: "I teach the people to hate to ignore the Rastaman."(SR)
The truth surrounding the economic conditions in Jamaica was highlighted throughout the film as well. Campbell documents the slums of Jamaica using moving cameras that span the dirty streets. Often he takes close ups of the children living in this poverty. It goes to show the type of environment Tosh grew up in; what had formed him into the man who speaks words of such enlightenment.
Tosh professed to being the musical teacher of Bob Marley. In Audio #24 Tosh basically asserts that he taught Bob Marley all about music, saying; "He was always my student from the first time he put his fingers on a guitar."(SR) This is a potent statement. It makes the viewer see Tosh in an almighty light that he was the one who formed Marley into a musician and thus a star. The visual image we get from the director to back up this statement is a grainy video tape from the early Wailers. Bob Marley is shown smiling and playful while Tosh looks more serious and pensive.
He elaborates on the importance of himself as a musician in the Wailers. In Audio #25 Tosh says that he was in conflict with the shituation of being belittled and underestimated. He is eluding to the fact that his talent and influence on the band members was not appreciated as much as he thought it should have been.
Peter Tosh: Reggae Super Star
The interwoven footage of Tosh concerts shows the viewer that Tosh was a Reggae Icon. In the introductory five minutes an award Tosh won for music was shown and a rock painted in tribute to him. This tells the viewer that we are watching the life of a famous and revered man.
In the Red X tapes the viewer is made aware that it was not his fame that swelled his head. In Audio # 14 Tosh talks about being a musical prodigy as a child. One is first introduced to his ego surrounding his music in the final words spoken in that quote; "if I only had the opportunity of having my own professional instrument I would play the songs angels sing."(SR)
Furthermore he elaborates on the importance of his music in Audio #29 when he talks about how his music should be respected just as white music is respected. In a filmic irony the director shows us footage from a Saturday Night Live appearance where Tosh performed with Mick Jagger. It could be said from the way that Jagger was strutting and chiming in on Tosh's microphone that he was hogging the spotlight from Tosh. It did not appear that Tosh minded, at least not on camera.
Peter Tosh: Rude Boy
Tosh became known as the 'Stepping Razor' while in the group the Wailers. His presence and musical intonations were angry and incited revolution, thus he was given this name. It is made known from the footage of Jamaica and Tosh's own statements in Audio #5 that he came from a poor family. To come from nothing and get something is a repeated theme, he talks about this in Audio #9. Having no black role models in power to serve him as guides the viewer can assert that, his, was a struggle to power and fame.
The image of the rude boy is cultural stereotype of Jamaica. The rude boy connotes violence and war tactics to fight oppression and poverty. Barrow and Dalton define the term Rude boy as, "a young ghetto criminal or hooligan, as immortalized in the mid-late 1960's by among others, the Wailers" (Barrow & Dalton:377)
In the early years of the Wailers, the band was photographed with guns in their hands, appearing like gangsters. This still image proceeds an interview with Lee Jaffe the producer of Legalize It. Jaffe talks about how long it took to make this record and asserts that it was because people were afraid of Tosh. The viewer asses that Stepping Razor was not just a nick name; people actually thought he was dangerous.
We are presented with images of Tosh on stage wielding a sword in concert. Tosh is also shown playing a guitar shaped like a machine gun in concert footage. To add to the portrayal of Tosh as a rude boy, the director uses scenes in his montages of still images of young boys with guns and older boys also wielding swords while walking down the streets of Jamaica. This is artistic license but it creates the atmosphere and gives the viewer a visual picture of what a rude boy looks like.
Peter Tosh: A Man Persecuted from all Angles
Campbell, the director, illustrates to the viewer that Tosh was a persecuted man. The persecution did not only take the form of physical harassment from police it is eluded to, many times, that Tosh was persecuted by evil spirits. This persecution dichotomy is composed of a real persecution with external causes being the police harassment. The other component is the envisioned persecution which is internal, caused by the vampires and evil spirits Tosh speaks of.
The external persecution in the film is illustrated by still photographs of Tosh in jail with a bandage on his arm and wounds to his head. In the interview played over this image Tosh eludes to the belief that there is a political conspiracy against him, deriving from the opposition he expressed to Marley's One Love Concert.
The envisioned persecution is of more cinematic importance. Campbell uses montage and dream sequence techniques to illustrate the persecution of Tosh by evil spirits. In the beginning of the film Tosh talks about vampires getting at your heals. Later it is revealed in an interview with K.D. a childhood friend of Tosh, that this was not meant figuratively, that he actually did believed in duppy: the Jamaican term for ghosts.
In Audio #8 we get a first look at the type of spiritual persecution Tosh felt he was going through. He says the devil tried to blind him to the corruption of and hypocrisy of life in Jamaica. Saying that the devil attacked you is a powerful statement indeed. It speaks to the spiritual and downtrodden side of Tosh. The montage that goes along with the quote, it artistically reenacts what physically might have happened to Tosh as a child. The viewer is left with a conceptualized picture of this occurrence, but it can not do justice to the recollection of that event expressed by Tosh.
The next piece of evidence the viewer is given to persuade them that Tosh is being spiritually persecuted is the dream sequence montage, wherein it is reenacted that Tosh becomes paralyzed by a sitting ghost. In the spoken recollection from Tosh of this event, he claims he was again attacked by evil forces which paralyzed him. Due to the fear he made inner communication in which he discovered the creator which dwells within man. He says he spoke to the spirit and the spirit told him how to exorcise these demons. As I have expanded on this in a previous segment of this paper, I will conclude with the fact that it is important to note that this is not an isolated experience known only to Tosh. That it has happened to at least one other person if not more.
Mortimer Planno, a Rasta Elder said of this spiritual persecution: "So if you are afraid of the duppy, duppy will come, for so it go."(SR) Immediately following Planno's words is Audio #31 wherein Tosh essentially puts in to words that he is in fact being persecuted by evil spirits. His words speak more volumes than I could write to convince you of this...
Audio #31:"I was close confrontation with the devils I could see them face to face. I see them feed upon their brothers flesh like the fouls of the air feed upon the dead meat of the earth I see everything that is almighty creation invented arranged to assassinate those who speak the truth."
The Cinematic Expression of Death in "Stepping Razor"
The director chose to introduce Tosh's murder early on in the film by giving the viewer a glimpse of the reenactment. However the viewer is not completely aware of what they are seeing, because the visual reenactment does not correspond to audio talking about his murder. The first notice we are given that Tosh died is an audio newscast report of the incident at the Tosh residence. The rumors surrounding the reasons for the Tosh murder are talked about by various people. The director then delves back into the life of Tosh. Death is brought up again in the middle of the film. It is however most heavily concentrated on at the end of the film. Footage from the reenactment is played again along with crime scene photographs. The survivors of the shooting are interviewed and footage of the funeral is shown. Scenes of rain falling are also shown, this is symbolism in film that often depicts sadness, loss or pain.
In a Hollywood film or conventional documentary this is where Tosh as a character would exit and not be seen again. Campbell takes a different approach. After the funeral the viewer is shown concert footage and interviews and more Audio of Tosh from the Red X tapes.
I believe Campbell was taking a cue from Tosh. In an interview with Tosh's common law wife, Marlene Brown, says Tosh quieted her fears about the rumors about a hit was put out on Tosh. She recalls Tosh saying; "Me can't dead." (SR) I think Campbell used Tosh's sentiment about death in the making of his film.
After the funeral scene we hear the last Audio from the Red X tapes, that is Audio #32. Tosh speaks of the truth once again. After this point the closing credits roll. In a Hollywood film this is where a movie ends; people leave their seats and go home. Campbell defies Hollywood protocol once again. As the credits roll the viewer is shown some more footage of the Wailers, we see Tosh once again.
In the final scene after the closing credits we see Tosh yet again, he is lit from the front and we are able to see him clearly as opposed to the very beginning of the film.
Tosh speaks these words:
"Every form of victimization is universal not only in Jamaica but because I live in Jamaica and I see many youths become victim of the shitstem. I know it is universal. The father gives me the inspiration to sing the music because he said I call upon the singers and the players of instruments, all my springs are in league that means I am here to play the music and communicate with the father spiritually, so I can inspire to make music to awaken the slumber mentality of people. "(SR)
Thus in a cinematic sense Tosh never dies. The last sound the viewer hears is a roosters call. This is not a typical exit sound. This is a wake up call. In irony and in effigy it lies at the end of the movie.
Cinematic Interpretation of "Stepping Razor Red X" By Lesley Vollmer
Film: "Stepping Razor Red X" :The Peter Tosh Story
Director: Nicholas Campbell
1992 Northern Arts Entertainment Inc.
Barrow, Steve and Peter Dalton
Reggae The Rough Guide
1997 Rough guides Ltd./ Penguin Books
Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson
Film Art An Introduction Fourth Edition
1993 McGraw-Hill Inc.
The Complete Film Dictionary, Second Edition
1997 Penguin Reference
Film Study Volume I
1990 Associated University Presses Inc.
Gannett News Service
November 4, 1993, Thursday
"Stepping Razor Documentary tells story of Peter Tosh"
By Jack Garner
The Boston Globe
September 1,1993, Wednesday, City Edition
"Stepping Razor gives Tosh his due"
By Steve Morse
The New York Times
August 20, 1993, Friday, Late Edition-Final
"Recalling Tosh's music, and it's pointed message"
By Stephen Holden
The Courier Journal (Louisville, KY)
December 17, 1993, Friday-Metro Edition
"Stepping Razor -Red X Los Angeles Review"
By Fred Shuster
The Houston Chronicle
February 4, 1994, Friday, 2 Star Edition
"Stepping Razor Red X"
By Louis B. Parks
Personal Interviews with Zul Atmosudijo; film Student at Burlington College and UVM Alum
Conducted by Lesley Vollmer
3/15/00 and 4/17/00
Transcription of all Audio from the Red X Tapes
All of the following quotes are the spoken words of Peter Tosh, transcribed by Lesley Vollmer from the film Stepping Razor Red X.
Audio #1 time (3:19)
"What as it was designed by Jah who was my creator, who sent me here to help to alleviate, to turn the filth and corruption that my people have been inoculated with it's only my duty to teach those who will learn."
Audio #2 time (4:34)
"That's the beginning of my days at war, the beginning of World War I with the devil."
Audio #3 time (5:06)
"It is only the truth that can make a man free, It is only the truth that can make a man live."
Audio #4 time (06:20)
"The truth has been branded outlawed and illegal. To have the truth in your possession you can be found guilty, sentenced to death."
Audio #5 time (12:15)
"I came from a poor family who financially was not capable to give me a proper education, but at the same time my ambition, my hopes, and aspiration, my inner concept of creativity was born in me showed me to help myself and I did."
Audio #6 time (14:07)
"In this society I am classified as illegitimate but that does not make me lose faith within myself , cause my mother was not married to my father."
Audio #7 time (14:40)
"Because of the unfavorable financial position my mother was unable to grow me under her own nature and admonition."
Audio #8 time (15:15)
"When I was about seven years old I can not forget when the devil tried to blind me with barbed wire I heard my parents cry running very fast I clashed with the wire two barbs could be three or more stopped in my eyelid right on the surface of my eyeball I wept blood from my eyes I looked into the mirror and I saw where my two eyelid was slit open, open so wide I could see through them That was one of the first major pit of destruction that the devil put before my feet so I would not see the ails, the corruption, the filth, the shit, the destruction, the lies, the hypocrisy, we live day after day."
Audio #9 time (16:40)
"My times when I came to the planet, there were fortress, the black people would be recognized as nobody. So I've never seen a black lawyer, a black judge, a black preacher, the come like sheep with out shepherd, children with out parents, students with out teachers, born in the conflict of poverty, all we had was nothing, but because of the divine spirit that we was born and raised with it teaches us to multiply nothing with nothing and get something, zero with zero and get one."
Audio #10 time (18:34)
"And they started to teach me of the devil, Satan, and hell they teach me of the Christians, but they make sure to teach me that Jesus was son of God, this white man."
Audio #11 time (19:09)
"And I ask why am I black, they say I was born in sin, and shamed inequity. One of the main songs we used to sing in church makes me sick, 'love wash me and I shall be whiter than snow'"
Audio #12 time (19:49)
"In my search I heard of the name God. I go to church and they say God made man in the likeness of his own image. If I made a doll it is quite obvious that the doll must look like me, but still I am faced with the ignorance , lost into fantasy seeking to find the reality in what they taught me of this illusion of God."
Audio #13 time (20:41)
"...I hate life every time I hear them talk about the blood of Jesus. I imagine how much of my blood they would like to see shed because if them shed at Jesus blood so, imagine who praise him."
Audio #14 time (23:53)
"I was singing at the age of two, when I was five I played my first guitar I was learning piano music at the age of thirteen and if I only had the opportunity of having my own professional instrument I would play the songs that angels sing. When I came to the city of Kinston which is called Kinston."
Audio #15 time (24:37)
"It's the first time of me being on my own leaving under my parents jurisdiction, it was a new era in my life. A whole new page turned over cause this was totally different from what I grew up with in the country."
Audio #16 time (25:15)
"The most dangerous things I ever heard or seen in my life is when I find myself in Trenchtown."
Audio #17 time (25:43)
"I see many people, many youths in general become victims of the shitstem. I see them die. I hear them cry over the pain the agony, many I see die because of impatience. I see many get frustrated, hallucinating, kinks, crack, nuts, crazy, walking out of themselves, lost into fantasy seeking to find the reality. And I see myself in the same similar shituation."
Audio #18 time (36:24)
"The government was totally against the rastamans presence in society. I teach the people to hate to ignore the rastaman."
Audio #19 time (36:51)
"Talking about fear, fear was only one of the ways of trying to eliminate the lion from society, but that was one of the weapons that they tried to make him destroy himself with, there was many other ways."
Audio #20 time (37:37)
"And then when I investigated the fact that this black heart man was the rasta man, the man of peace. the man of love and tranquillity, within his heart the man that teaches good to his people, teach them to love each other."
Audio #21 time (38:17)
"The man that was so humble sometimes I feel embarrassed to see how humble they was. They will smoke the herb of the earth. And smoke until his eyes become as red as a flaming fire. seen, even though his eyes be so red from his mouth come the words of wisdom, that will be so uplifting."
Audio #22 time (40:29)
"I was raised in the society of poverty where I saw the innocent being humiliated daily, dying for being poor, so poverty was part of the crime in our society."
Audio #23 time (41:21)
"Poverty was designed by bureaucrats and politicians and leaders of churches and states to see to it that the rastaman stay in the category of poverty and want and need, so he will break down and start to commit crime. And then again when I look around me in Trenchtown all I see was poor and vicious people who had the ambition and the integrity and the divine qualities sometimes and dignity of a millionaire."
Audio #24 time (46:10)
"We know those Satan's and those devils they have been there for a long time and I am sick and tiered of their bullshit, what they're trying to do is create conflict, saying what they're trying to create between us is simple stars seen, and divide us , make us look like we are rivals. Bob Marley was my student and he was always my student , from the first time he put his fingers on a guitar seen, we were a group together, one went one way, two went the other way."
Audio #25 time (48:49)
"When I left the group there were people who said I was I conflict with Bob, which is some kind of madness, which is not a matter of being in conflict with Bob, it is just a matter of being in conflict with the shituation that I live all my life approximately seen, and it definates my character, belittles my authority, underestimates my ability and me could not stomach that for another twelve years."
Audio #26 time (48:49)
"Bambarass...So you can imagine where I was at I had was to have faith both in myself and in the almighty. And ask him to cool the tempest so that I might be able to write safely and accomplish my mission."
Audio #27 time (56:41)
"It was like I was born in South Africa, because of the environment I was born, because of the philosophy that they preaches inoculates the youth, African youth, with inferiority complex in as much as I was taught that when you're white you're perfectly right, when you're brown you can stick around, but if you're black, stay in the back. Every morning going to school my grandmom used to wake me up and she would always want me to comb my hair, but I could comb my hair for fifteen hours when I finish it would be the same and they would always curse and say natty pat head boy."
Audio #28 time (57:59)
"I been through world War I and I'm going through World War II."
Audio #29 time (1:13:25)
"I know the potential of my music and my music must be played and respected the way any other white bullshit is respected where I don't care if it is culturally admirably uplifting to the people and if the society is not concerned with upliftment well just let me know and let me back out because I will go to Africa or Japan or China where more people are more culturally and morally aware."
Audio #30 time (1:15:37)
"The truth is I was full of fear, lots of fear, for the evil that exists around the 360 degrees but there is something within me that was born inside me that is called determination and I know it has more power than fear."
Audio #31 time (1:29:52)
"I was close confrontation with the devils I could see them face to face. I see them feed upon their brothers flesh like the fouls of the air feed upon the dead meat of the earth I see everything that is almighty creation invented arranged to assassinate those who speak the truth."
Audio #32 time (1:40:00)
"When I look into the blue water of the ocean I see the truth, when I look into the skies I see the truth. When I fill my lungs with fresh air I feel the truth. It is only the truth that can make a man free. It is only the truth that can make a man live."
Throughout this paper I will be using Film terminology to describe and provide a context to my interpretations and examination of the film "Stepping Razor." I will provide the reader with a glossary of terms so that I will be able to incorporate them into the body of the text with out interruption for explanation. The terms come from "The Complete Film Dictionary, Second Edition" by Ira Konigsberg.
Atmosphere: The mood or feeling of a scene created by any number of the following: setting, costumes, make up, color, lighting, acting style, camera angles and movement, editing, and sound.
Camera Movement: Any motion of the camera that makes the image seem to move shift or change perspective. The mobility of the camera allows the audience to stay with a character while he or she walks, follow the motion of some vehicle or object or see the scene from the characters point of view, as he or she moves.
Cinematography: The word is derived from the Cinematography of the Lumiere brothers and applies to: 1) The photography of moving images in the making of a motion picture. Cinematography involves such technical concerns as camera, lens, film stock, and lighting, and such techniques as camera angle, distance, and movement. Significant to each image and the relation of images are composition, form, color, light and dark, and motion. The term also applies to :2) The entire procedure for making motion pictures which includes photography, processing, printing and projection.
Color cast: An overall tint in a film image.
Connotation: In film the term can be applied to the words of dialog, the names of characters or places, or the title of the motion picture; it can also be applied to the suggestive quality of images.
Continuity: The continuous flow of a film... Effective continuity is dependent upon proper matching of details movement and dialog from shot to shot, and a logical and explicit development of plot from scene to scene.
Discontinuity: Sudden and abrupt shifts from shot to shot in the editing of a film caused by the mismatching of such element such as location of characters, objects or action; direction or speed of movement; composition; lighting; or color. Discontinuity normally is consciously planned to achieve a scene of disharmony disorder, confusion or contrast and to upset the viewer.
Filmic time: The temporal ordering and arrangement of events that exist within the film as opposed to the normal flow of time in the real world... Film has the capacity to create a new temporal order by: (1) bringing together actions filmed at separate moments in time (2) eliminating interludes of unimportant time (3) extending the normal time of a scene (4) extending or diminishing the audiences sense of time by slow or rapid cutting (5) Moving back and forth in time, in relation to the chronological narrative sequence, through flash back or flash forward. (6)...superimposing images from two different times to create a sense of relatedness or counterpoint.
Guiding shot:...A dominant shot during a sequence around which the other shots cohere. The guiding shot helps pattern the pattern the other shots either through it's repetition or by beginning or concluding the sequence.
Metonymy: In film this concept readily applies to an object that is visibly present to represent another object to which it is related.
Montage: (3)Any editing style that seems distinct from the invisible style of cutting developed in Hollywood by being more consciously constructed to achieve particular effects and control the responses of the audience. In this sense montage is a more artistic kind of editing, where the emphasis is less on the simple progression of narration and more on the impact of the sequence upon the viewer. (4) The process of placing film images in a sequence so that new dimensions of space and time are created.
Reverse scene (or shot): A scene which has been turned around and in which all the action has been reversed.
Sequence: A series of related shots and scenes that form a single, coherent unit of dramatic action.