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U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (2005)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 545 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 12 user | 41 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

A version of Georges Bizet's Carmen, set in a modern-day South African township.

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Title: U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (2005)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Pauline Malefane ...
Andile Tshoni ...
Jongikhaya
Lungelwa Blou ...
Nomakhaya
Zweilungile Sidloyi ...
Lulamile Nkomo (as Zorro Sidloyi)
Andries Mbali ...
Bra Nkomo
Zamile Gantana ...
Captain Gantana
Andiswa Kedama ...
Amanda
Ruby Mthethwa ...
Pinki
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ross Garland ...
Policeman
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Storyline

U-CARMEN is a feature film based on Georges Bizet's 19th-century opera that was filmed on location in a modern South African township setting. The energy, compassion, and heat of township life in all its elements create a constantly visually interesting and dynamic background for the unfolding of the story, which owes part of its huge popularity to the thrilling combination of a violent gangster tale with a passionate, almost supernatural love story. As it unfolds, it explores issues of fame and wealth, the position of a strong and independently minded woman in a very masculine society and, perhaps most importantly, the incomprehensible attraction between abuser and victim. Bizet's opera, based on Prosper Merimée's novel, premiered in Paris on March 3, 1875. Set in a poor area of Seville, the story of the magnetic woman who seduces, loves, and ultimately destroys her lover and herself, is well known. Girl (Carmen) seduces boy (Don José), boy becomes completely obsessed, girl leaves ... Written by KOCH Lorber Films

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Musical | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 April 2005 (South Africa)  »

Also Known As:

Carmen  »

Box Office

Budget:

ZAR 5,279,093 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Version of Carmen (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Carmen
Opera by Georges Bizet
performed by the South Africa Theater Company
See more »

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User Reviews

Disastrously wrong-headed adaptation
8 August 2011 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

The art of adaptation is difficult, yet there are many fans out there who go beyond giving the benefit of the doubt and actually embrace any old mindless desecration of a great text. To those souls I recommend the idiotic Ethan Hawke/Michael Almereyda HAMLET, or this South African travesty.

Film festivals have become an inverse barometer of quality in recent decades -beware like the plague any Cannes prize winner! U-CARMEN took the Golden Bear at Berlin, obviously impressing some afraid-to-be-considered-out-of-date jurors. But wait, the award-winning director from Blighty Mark Dornford-May's has gone on to win awards for a similar adaptation of Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE. Ouch!

I will merely chronicle the most major mistakes that sunk this project -a full discussion would take far longer than IMDb's 1000-word-limit. Firstly, retaining Bizet's music but electing to use the Xhosa local language (instead of French, or even Spanish) was more than foolhardy. It reflects an inverted prejudice that haunts Black filmmakers, let alone poor Mark. Great opera singers from South Africa, or anywhere else, have to learn to sing (and act) in German, Italian and French for starters. Setting the story in contemporary townships of South Africa is okay, but the actors should have sung in French, period. It's no longer Carmen in this form.

Choreography: I was frankly shocked to watch the mainly overweight (this is of course a plus-size Carmen) protagonists shuffling along in what purported to be the dance numbers. To all the revisionists who found this version superior to Saura's classic flamenco interpretation, what have you been smoking? The dancing here is embarrassingly bad, not even up to amateur, backyard movie levels.

Cinematography: As with practically every video or movie made today, the picture is presented in a widescreen format. But the compositions are puerile -looks like a TV show stretched to resemble band aids. One shot of an actress singing while a guy's crotch framed her randomly in the background was enough for me to tune out visually.

Casting: Director Mark cast his wife, Pauline Malefane, as Carmen and also starred her in his next & only feature, too. She is completely inexpressive, not acting at all, which would be bad enough for an actual opera (opera singers have to learn how to act, too) but for a film is ridiculous. To add that she is physically ill-suited for the role would be piling on, but I felt that way too.

Reinterpretation: I let them have the switch to post-Aparheid South Africa gimmick. I was willing to go along with an all-Black cast -no Voortrekkers need apply. But changing the opera's military aspect to cops is utterly stupid. In South Africa, U.S., or even Iraq, the distinction between the military and the police is significant -you can't make them synonymous for dramatic purposes. The various chubby cops here, several of whom displayed quality singing voices, play cops not soldiers and it self-destructs the narrative. Or to put it another way, I wouldn't want to sit through a CARMEN episode of that old TV series "Cop Rock".


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