Kino Lorber is presenting a new restoration of the original Native Son film. The 1951 film version of the novel was directed by Pierre Chenal and starred the novel’s author, Richard Wright, as Bigger Thomas. The restoration presented in association with the Library of Congress, Fernando Martin Peña and Argentina Sono Film.

The logline: One of the most controversial novels of its day, Richard Wright’s NATIVE SON (first published in 1940) exposed the injustices of urban African American life, witnessed through the eyes of Bigger Thomas, whose violent tendencies and moral confusion were the inevitable result of generations of institutionalized racism. In prison for murder and sentenced to death, Thomas reflects on the circumstances that led to his fate. 

The film was as heavily censored upon release in the United States bby regional state/municipal censor boards where it played. A complete 16mm print of the original Argentinian release version was located in 1999 by film archivist Fernando Martin Peña in Buenos Aires. Then, the Library of Congress found an incomplete 35mm duplicate negative of the uncensored cut in Puerto Rico. Both were combined for this new restoration, the most complete version of the film ever shown in the United States.

This restoration is preceded by a special filmed introduction by film historians Eddie Muller (Film Noir Foundation) and Jacqueline Najima Stewart (co-curator of Kino Lorber’s Pioneers of African American Cinema), courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

Another film was released in 1986, and the third and most recent adaptation, a contemporary reimagining starring Ashton Sanders, was released on HBO last year.

Check out the trailer and poster below, exclusive to Shadow and Act:


The restoration opens September 24 in select theaters and virtual cinemas!





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Photo: Kino Lorber