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Who Needs A Heart (1991)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

North London, 1972. A young black woman, carrying a 'Free Angela Davis' placard, arrives to pick her friends up for a demo. However, there is terrible news. Michael X (aka Michael Abdul Malik), formerly known as Michael De Freitas, has been executed in Trinidad. The young woman collapses in anguish.

North London, 1960s. A young, white photographer falls in with a bohemian, racially integrated crowd. Around the same time Michael De Frietas turns his back on the rent collecting business and becomes a revolutionary speaker, travelling the land to talk to about the downtrodden position of the West Indian people in Britain, who, but for oppression, might seize control of their destiny.

The young bohemians casually swap partners, dabble in art, throw lavish parties and flirt with the revolutionary ideas of Michael X. Through the 60s their style becomes more severe: trim leather jackets and tailored suits replace the foppish costumes, marijuana pipes replace brandies. They are still swapping partners though, and there are casualties. The young Angela Davis supporter is now an alcoholic and drug addict, who is later incarcerated in a mental home.

While young black radicals develop martial arts skills and organise publicity events, they are not always sure who or what they are supposed to be supporting. Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael visit Michael X and give their support to his movement.

North London, 1972. Michael X is captured and transferred to prison. Opinion on the street is that Michael X was a conman, interested only in lining his own pockets, not uplifting the race. Police raid the home of a Michael X supporter and arrest two men. The group disbands; the friends separate, a family broken up.

London, 1975. A man is released from prison and it looks as though the days of the black power movement have returned. But after a few days of freedom, the man becomes increasingly withdrawn and paranoid. He shoots himself.

The dead man's wife and child follow the coffin bearers. One of the friend's reflects on the revolutionary period: they knew what they wanted to do, but somehow things went wrong.