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


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


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


Musical | Drama | Romance


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Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 April 2005 (South Africa)  »

Also Known As:

Carmen  »

Box Office


ZAR 5,279,093 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Version of Carmen o la hija del contrabandista (1911) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Yo, Carmen!
25 June 2008 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Can anyone imagine the immortal Georges Bizet opera "Carmen" relocated to another continent? Well, that is exactly what the creators of this film decided to do. They moved the location from Seville to a South African township near Cape Town to set the action. The result is an interesting movie in which most of the opera sung in Xhosa.

This is not a typical adaptation of this work because it asks the viewer to make allowances for the way one conceived the classical work. By bringing it to a different geographical location, the characters take new meaning in the action. Carmen, the sultry cigarette factory worker is the object of desire from the good cop, Jongi, who reads the bible. Carmen lures him to work with an expatriate, who is the son of a slain anti apartheid legend.

This work was staged in South Africa and then made into this film. Mark Dornford-May who wrote and directed, probably wanted to present the work with a different point of view but keeping the core of the story and original songs. Pauline Malefane, who plays Carmen, worked in the translation from French into Xhosa with excellent results.

The South African cast does an excellent job in what Mr. Dornford-May set out to accomplish. The characters feel real in the context where they are situated, giving the film a great feeling for what unfolds on screen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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