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Through a chronological history of the South African liberation struggle, this documentary cites examples of the way that music was used in the fight for freedom. Songs united those who were being oppressed and gave those fighting a way to express their plight. The music consoled those incarcerated, and created an effective underground form of communication inside the prisons. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
An inspiring look at music as a catalyst for change
"Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony" is a documentary that is riveting and educational, uplifting and heartbreaking. The contrasts are all laid bare in this project, making it a worthwhile film to watch.
The focal point of the documentary is the role music played in the lives of South Africans as they endured and overcame the Apartheid movement. Director Leon Hirsch interviews a number of singers, composers, DJs and freedom fighters, young and old. He follows the history of Apartheid by tracing the music that came out of the struggle and what happened to those who created it.
I think what grabbed me was how much of a role music plays in great periods of change. It was also a driving force of African-Americans in the U.S. who were fighting segregation during the 60s. The spirituals that buoyed them share a similar history to those songs sung in South Africa.
The music chosen was a wonderful collection I want to hear again. I also enjoyed seeing the laughter of many of the singers as they looked at old photographs, remembering younger days.
I also liked that Hirsch interviewed a white freedom fighter who was sent to Pretoria prison for several years. His interviews with the white Afrikkaners who formerly worked as riot police and jailers are chilling but necessary.
My hope is that more Americans will see this film so they fully realize the scope of Apartheid in South Africa and what a triumph it was to see it overturned. Was it really 1994 when black South Africans were finally allowed to vote? It breaks my heart.
As a teenager in the 80s, I knew hardly anything about Apartheid. This film did a good job in changing that.
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