This portrait of the influential left-wing intellectual Stuart Hall, one of the founders of cultural studies, was released a year before his death. For 50 years he had been an important voice in public debate, and he also made many educational programs for television.
Hall provided access to his personal archive, including photos and home videos. Because we hear his voice almost constantly throughout the film, either on or off camera, he appears to assume the director’s role himself. In reality, it’s John Akomfrah who takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey through both the history of the 20th century and Hall’s personal life and ideas.
Tracks by his hero Miles Davis, combined with footage of the historical events that Hall refers to, give the film a loosely chronological structure. We see the independence of Hall’s home country of Jamaica, the Hungarian Revolution and the Vietnam War, as well as the rise of the civil rights movement, youth culture and neoliberalism under Margaret Thatcher.