Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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It’s hard to imagine what this documentary was originally supposed to be about, considering that on the very day director Tod S. Lending began filming, one of his subjects was gunned down just hours before he was to be interviewed. “The Legacy” refers to the unmistakable influence that tragic shooting and its victim, popular 14-year-old straight “A” student Terrell Collins, had on three generations of the Collins family. At the time of the shooting, the Collins family was just one of the thousands of families stuck in the drug and violence-torn projects; mired in FDR’s unintended legacy of poverty and welfare dependency that not even the nation’s unprecedented economic expansion can seem to break. Nickcole Collins serves as our eyes and ears for the family’s five year journey that Lending’s film covers. Her grandmother, on public aid all her life, was the family matriarch, helping to raise Nickcole, her siblings and her cousins including Terrell. Nickcole’s mother dropped out of school in the 11th grade, had kids fathered by three different men, all absent, and mixed half-hearted, sporadic attempts at employment with welfare. Her Aunt Wanda, Terrell’s mother, was an alcoholic crack addict who’d resorted to prostitution to pay for the drugs. While Terrell was showing signs of escaping this tragic life cycle, the burden of setting an example fell to Nickcole upon his death. As we follow her through high school and college over the next five years, we watch as her accomplishments, combined with the awful shock of Terrell’s death, inspire the elder women in the family to pull themselves at last out of their ruts of insecurity, apathy, dependency, and addiction. This educational and inspiring film subtly reminds us that not everyone in such dire straits is there because they’re satisfied with life on the dole, while encouraging those who are stuck in a dependency cycle that it’s possible to break out. As proud as Nickcole’s family is of her, “The Legacy” shines a light on a family that she, and by extension the rest of us, should justifiably be proud of.
Posted on April 3, 2000 in Reviews by Merle Bertrand
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