Sunday, October 05, 2008


Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (Lee Hirsch, 2003) [4]

If this wasn't so scatter shot, it might have actually made a pretty interesting documentary. Instead, its lack of focus makes it a complete disappointment. In attempting to tell the story of how song helped in the anti-apartheid movement, Hirsch creates a film that has no real focal point and instead it drifts from idea to idea and never gives enough information from said ideas. The problem isn't in the ideas themselves; it's in the execution, or lack thereof that hampers the film. The main idea here, that since a majority of black South Africans could not read or write, that song became the main way to get the ideas of the protest movement heard and understood, is rock solid. That the film only gives cursory glimpses into the larger sociological impacts of Apartheid is a big let down to me. Instead, a lot of time is spent of people talking or performing after the fact. The film would have been much more effective if historical footage would have been used and explained more. The film's strongest moments are in fact those times. While it no doubt has good intentions, Amandla! is far from a perfect document on a story that could be better told.

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