In search of a revitalizing start to the New Year? Your answer lies in “The Book of Clarence,” an enthralling cinematic experience slated to grace screens on January 12, 2024.
This upcoming release delves into the life of an “everyday man” determined to overcome obstacles and forge a path for himself. Directed and written by Jeymes Samuel, the film promises to be an inspiring journey.
Moments before its premiere at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Samuel shares the film’s central theme: “inspiration.” He encourages viewers to recognize that their goals are not mere dreams but tangible realities waiting to be achieved.
Samuel challenges the conventional use of the term “dreams,” asserting that it often leads to embracing the concept of failure. Instead, he advocates for viewing aspirations as concrete aims, plans, and intentions. In the narrative, Clarence personifies inspiration and aspiration, embodying the belief that he can reach his objectives.
As you immerse yourself in The Book of Clarence remember Samuel’s impactful words: “If you take away anything from this movie, knowledge is stronger than belief.” This film is more than just entertainment; it’s a reminder that our aspirations are within reach and that the power of knowledge surpasses mere belief.
“The Book of Clarence” unfolds against the backdrop of biblical-era Jerusalem, where Lakeith Stanfield breathes life into the character Clarence. In the heart of this ancient city, Clarence, an ordinary individual with dreams as grand as the towering walls surrounding him, envisions a future where he can provide for his mother, win the heart of his dream girl, and defy the perception that he’s a mere “nobody.”
The term “nobody” carries a weight that resonates with those grappling with issues of self-worth and depression. This film serves as a universal reminder that limitless possibilities await, and the only true impediment is often self-imposed. As we stand on the brink of 2024, the narrative implores individuals to pursue their deepest desires in life—a sentiment echoed by Clarence, whose unwavering faith, determination, and knowledge ultimately lead him to encounter the Messiah.
Remarkably, the inception of Stanfield taking on this challenging role traces back to the filming of “The Harder They Fall.” Intriguingly, Jeymes Samuel deliberately kept Stanfield in the dark about the role until the final day of shooting. The moment Stanfield laid eyes on the script, his decision was swift and unequivocal.
Reflecting on his reaction, Stanfield shares, “I didn’t even get to get through — before I was like, hell yeah! This shit is going to be fire. It’s going to be something different and it’s going to be something that pushes the boundaries forward. Clarence has so many similarities to me that I felt it was really timely. I knew that we’d seen nothing like this. First of all, black people in Jerusalem. They don’t like to show us in history like that.”
“The Book of Clarence” not only promises a unique cinematic experience but also serves as a timely exploration of identity, faith, and the boundless potential within each individual.
Jeymes Samuel, the visionary British filmmaker, marked his directorial debut with the 2021 Western masterpiece, “The Harder They Fall.” Collaborating with hip-hop icon Jay Z, credited as a producer, and Shawn Carter also listed as a producer, Samuel crafted a cinematic experience that resonated with audiences.
Lakeith Stanfield, a pivotal player in both films, reflects on the unique opportunity presented by Samuel. Having previously worked together on “The Harder They Fall,” Stanfield recognized the synergy between Samuel’s directing prowess and his own artistic sensibility. Beyond the technicalities, he saw Samuel as a multifaceted and creatively rich individual. Stanfield eagerly embraced the chance to collaborate again, driven by the certainty that something extraordinary would be born from their partnership.
The seamless connection between the two films is evident, not only through the shared presence of Lakeith Stanfield but also his co-pilot, RJ Cyler. The dynamic duo, having forged a robust bond both on and off camera during “The Harder They Fall,” brings a shared energy, passion, and an uncanny ability to fully inhabit their characters to both projects.
“The Book of Clarence” picks up the narrative where “The Harder They Fall” left off, creating a continuity that links the two films. A subtle nod occurs in the latter, where RJ Cyler’s character Beckwourth declares, “Like they say in the book of Clarence, ‘No man out-speed me’.” This thematic bridge further solidifies Samuel’s directorial vision, threading a narrative that seamlessly weaves across both cinematic experiences.
However, for Jeymes Samuel, the book of Clarence is undeniably real. In the tapestry of biblical narratives, people often focus on the prominent figures, neglecting the everyday individuals—the ones selling sandals to Jesus or managing the local hair salon. Drawing from his own life experiences, Samuel brings these often-overlooked stories to the forefront of the big screen, particularly amplifying voices of color that may be underrepresented in Hollywood.
“True art is inclusion, diversity, and freedom,” asserts Samuel. He advocates for a cinematic experience that mirrors the diverse environments we live in, acknowledging that our surroundings don’t always resemble the polished Hollywood versions of the 10 Commandments. Instead, they reflect the neighborhoods we drive past daily.
Lakeith Stanfield adds, “I appreciate what you did by infusing serious themes, themes that are not necessarily simply comedic. We don’t take that serious because it’s funny, it’s a joke. They didn’t really exist back then; they didn’t start existing until we started showing y’all they started existing. This is counter that, and I appreciate that. There’s moments of levity, but it’s also very grounded in some real things. After all, Clarence is a real person, which we’re also fighting to constantly be seen as. Just like a regular person with a heartbeat and blood like everybody else. So it’s beautiful, I’m glad it exists man. I’m really glad to be a part of this.”
The film’s magnificent cinematography and the stellar ensemble cast, including Omar Sy, Anna Diop, David Oyelowo, Micheal Ward, Alfre Woodard, Teyana Taylor, Caleb McLaughlin, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, James McAvoy, and Benedict Cumberbatch, are standout elements that don’t go unnoticed. Each actor brings their unique brilliance to the narrative, contributing to the richness of The Book of Clarence.
In a poignant scene within the film, Clarence shares a heartfelt moment with his mother, expressing his aspiration to one day take care of her. Her response imparts invaluable wisdom: “Be the body, not the shadow. Hold space.”
This simple yet profound advice resonates, and the concept of “holding space” emerges as a central theme, echoing throughout the room. It serves as a powerful reminder of the significance of self-worth, self-love, and the belief that each individual can achieve their aspirations within their lifetime.
Jeymes Samuel encapsulates this sentiment, emphasizing the imperative nature of embracing one’s unique inclinations. He advocates for the liberation of oneself, emphasizing the need to break free from self-imposed constraints. In his words, “You have to obey your crazies”. These things are all there for a reason. You have to be free, you have to be unshackled. Because most of the time, it’s us that’s shackling ourselves. We have to unshackle ourselves, follow our heart.” This encapsulates the film’s underlying message of breaking free from internal limitations and embracing the authenticity within.