Biggie and Tupac
Hangin'. Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur had a troubled friendship (to say the least)
dir Nick Broomfield
with Nick Broomfield, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Suge Knight, Voletta Wallace, Sean Combs, Snoop Dogg, Frank Alexander, Little Cease, Russell Poole, Kevin Hackey
release UK 24.May.02; US 9.Aug.02
C4
02/UK 1h47

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Tenacious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield puts himself right in the middle of this rather frightening documentary about the shooting deaths of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (aka Notorious B.I.G.), six months apart in 1996-97. The police have never solved the murders, and Broomfield shrugs off the obvious links with gangsta crime, cop corruption and even FBI complicity to get interviews with everyone he can, blundering from one place to the next until he gets to the bottom of the story, creating an intriguing picture of these two men along the way. Well, there's a lot more about Smalls, as his family and friends offer video footage, music and rather candid interviews, while everything about Shakur is further removed.

As the film begins you feel that Broomfield is just stirring up a conspiracy, blithely wandering into offices and acting like he has no idea how inflammatory his questions are. Hints of an East/West Coast rap music feud are unconvincing, as are early comments about police involvement. And his whiney voiceovers make us think he's way out of his depth. Then the interviewees start squirming, giving obviously misleading information, and we realise he is onto something. His grating (and ingratiating) persona belies his sharp skills, and as details start to come together we start worrying for his safety. Indeed, the mere fact that this film exists could force him underground, Salman Rushdie-like. And perhaps that's what makes thus such a compelling documentary; it will grip even viewers who aren't interested in rap, as it cuts to the heart of American society in an unnerving way. How many docs have you seen that actually scare you?
themes, language, violence cert 15 5.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Steve G, London: "I think it's such a powerful film and Nick deserves a lot of credit for putting so much effort into delivering a complete picture, as well as putting himself on the line. I was impressed with the photos and film he was able to attain although I could watch hours more. The investigative reporting was extrememly thorough. The interviews with the bookkeeper, Lil' Cease and the former bodyguards of Pac and Biggie respectively were very telling as to who murdered Biggie. Unfortunately, Nick didn't (although more likely couldn't) go into further detail into Tupac's life and death. I've been compelled to see this movie three times taking friends of different ages, genders and levels of rap interests. All were very impressed." (27.Jun.02)

Neil, Hartlepool, England: "I would just like to say I thought that Nick Broomfiled did an amazing job on the documentry. I would have loved it if he was allowed to go into Tupac's death more because that seems to me like it's more of a mystery than Notorious B.I.G. And I'm more of a Tupac fan. I have also read the book by Tupac's bodygaurd called Got Your Back and it all just sounds a little suspicious." (9.May.03)

farzana_hno1, England: "Well in my point of view I think there will never be a better rapper than Tupac Amaru Shakur. He is a talented smart young man who had a lot going through his life. His lyrics do touch people, they make you think of life which is a positive thing. Whoever did shoot him apparently was jealous as he had fame, he was rich, and his music records were famous not only in America but other parts of the world. I hope God does forgive his sins because life goes on. May the lord rest his body in peace, bless him." (29.Jun.03)

Aaron, net: "I couldnt agree with you more. Tupac is a legend and no one will ever take his place. Nick Broomfiled has done an amazing job. R.I.P Tupac." (1.Nov.03)

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

HOME | AWARDS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK