Once again, I am very grateful to the SAY Film Project for publishing one of my film club reviews. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and gaining experience from the project.
As an actor, or ‘aspiring actor’ if you would like, I challenged myself to do something different (or behind the scenes) in this competion. I love writing and naturally gravitated towards the film critique aspect of the project. I now look forward to the screening of the films made by the team and students and, of course, reviewing them. But first, here is Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (2002):
Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony is a historical musical documentary written and directed by Lee Hirsch. Starring musical giants such Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Vusi Mahlasela and Abraham Ibrahim, Amandla! spans over five decades from 1948 to 1994 in South Africa. During that era was apartheid and a struggle that left Africans longing for hope and freedom. Hirsch transports us through each decade and shows the depth in which Apartheid oppressed Africans and the cries of freedom that echoed as a result. Iingoma zomzabalazo, songs of the struggle, were born out of a heritage enrooted in song and dance and eventually became the voice of the people fighting apartheid one harmony at a time. Music powerfully united the masses and changed as the political, social and economic atmosphere of the apartheid regime became more brutal and unstable. from songs of warning during the 1950s (such as ‘Watch out Vervoerd’) to songs releasing the pain of a mourning nation after the Sharpeville Massacre during the 1960s (such as ‘Senzenina?’).
Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony is an important piece of film that captures music in South African history and celebrates our African musical heritage and the extent in which music can change things in society. Although the documentary features some violent scenes depicting the violence during apartheid, the cinematography is somewhat beautiful and captures the soul of the struggle in Africa (such as the scene in which Sophie Mgcina is singing ‘Madam Please’, the cry of African domestic workers that include the words: “Madam, please, / Before you ask me if your children are fine, / Ask me when I last saw mine.”).