Within just a couple of weeks in late September, three of the films nominated for Best Picture were released. Now such a concentration might not seem odd these days, except that all the films would be coming out two months later in November and December. Remember, films played in theaters longer in 1984, and it was less likely that a movie would be forgotten just a few months later. “A Soldier’s Story” premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 1984, and was one of the earliest films to benefit from that exposure.
Presented as a murder mystery, the real subject of the film is racism. The kind of racism that most people would be familiar with, White and Black is part of the story but not the whole story. It also deals with a form of Black on Black racism, which involves attempting to shed a negative image by shrouding those negatives on someone different from ourselves. It does have the patina of a “prestige” picture that deals with white guilt over racism, and that may account for it being, maybe not forgotten but overlooked.