The history of the fences is quite extraordinary and as good as the movie. The film is based on a homonymous play written in 1983 by August Wilson. It is the sixth of ten parts of the Pittsburg cycle and takes place in the 50s of the twentieth century.
What all the cycles have in common is the examination of the experience of the African-American population and interracial relationships, among other topics. In 1987, the work received two important prizes, the Pulitzer and the Tony for the best work.
In the same year, it premiered on Broadway and was awarded numerous Tony awards. In 2010 the first Fences revival took place on Broadway, featuring almost the same cast that six years later will appear in the film version.
That is to say Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, respectively playing the role of the main character, Troy Maxson, and his wife Rose; besides the others, like Bono, a jovial friend of the family, starring Stephen McKinley Henderson; Russell Hornsby as Lyons, the son of Troy, who aspires to be a musician, like Mykelti Williamson in the role of Gabriel, a brother of Troy, who has mental disability as a result of the war.
The work won three of ten Tony Awards to which it had been nominated: the best re-release of a work, best actor for Denzel Washington and best actress for Viola Davis.
Although the author August Wilson finished the script of the film version of his work as early as 2005 (he died in the same year), the film took a few years to reach the big screen, because Wilson had insisted that the director be black.
In the end, Denzel Washington, who had already proven his worth as a director in two previous films, Antwone Fisher (2002) and The Great Debaters (2007), was encouraged, accepted the challenge and did so with great success.
To date, the film has received 93 nominations, including four to the recent Oscars: the best film, best actor, best actor and best adapted screenplay.
He has won 27 prizes, mainly for the interpretation (Washington makes it clear which are his priorities in the role of the director).
Most of the prizes (17), including the Oscar for best supporting actress, have gone to Viola Davis (Rose) alone, according to Sight & Sound (March 2017, p 45). incredible to steal the scenes of their co-stars.
Without a doubt, the performance at Fences can not be criticized and it is clear that “the emotional resonance of the work that the same team did on Broadway a few years ago translates wonderfully to the big screen” (Film Comment, January-February 2017, p. 3. 4).
Fences requires the spectator to make an effort and be attentive, as if he were in the theater watching the play live. Whatever they say (some critics are of the opinion that comparing the film with a play is an oversimplification), but yes, the experience seems a lot like a theatrical production and not only because the action is locked almost exclusively in the home of Troy and Rose, namely, in the back garden and inside the house.
We feel like in a theater, mainly because of the emphasis on dialogues and monologues, particularly the wordy Troy who tirelessly tells their stories (one has to pay attention to follow these stories for the energy and speed with which pronounces Washington), as well as the intensity of the feelings, particularly on the part of Davis, which earned him the Oscar.
Let me quote again the author of the article published in Film Comment: “Never in my life had I seen a work by August Wilson live, but the experience of watching the film made me feel as if I had (…) Fences is a exciting interpretation of a play with all the intensity and emotional complexity of a live performance “.