Mapantsula tells the story of Panic, a petty gangster who inevitably becomes caught up in the growing anti-apartheid struggle and has to choose between individual gain and a united stand ...
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Mapantsula tells the story of Panic, a petty gangster who inevitably becomes caught up in the growing anti-apartheid struggle and has to choose between individual gain and a united stand against the system. Written by
A powerful clandestine triumph of South African political struggle and cinema
This movie was one of many premiered at the Lincoln Center last year in New York in honor of the 10 year celebration of South Africa's democracy and the end of the struggle with apartheid. It had a powerful effect on me through it's socially realistic capturing of the life of Panic and the struggles that he undergoes under the systematically supported racist system.
Mapantsula is remarkable for two reasons. The first is the fact that it was shot as a mere crime movie under the overbearing eyes of the white censors and, when they were away, was filmed for the movie that we now know it to be. This adds to the film realism and significance by detailing a story that would otherwise not be told. Often times smuggled films come across as rough and unedited; however, Mapantsula manages to engage the viewer in the story of Panic, and particularly, in the story of how women are oppressed in their struggles to simply make a daily living while keeping their white employers happy and away from the perception that they are bringing their troubles into the white's homes (even though it is, ironically, the whites faults that such troubles persisted in South Africa for so long).
I am visiting South Africa this winter and this movie is one of the things that drew me to want to view the nation. Politically, it a nation with a tortured history that has managed, under oppression, to produce powerful leaders such as Mandela who have risen above the system to fight it and prove that humanity (not just democracy for even this form of government can sometimes be oppressive) will always triumph if the desire and fight for dignity remains alive.
The film has one message: "No." Say no to the racism, say no to apartheid, say no to hatred and national oppression of human dignity, and say no to any government that does not give you your natural rights. I regard it as one of my favorites among South African cinema.
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