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
I believe Mapantsula is one of the best movies about the struggle against oppression ever made.
I believe Mapantsula is one of the best movies about the struggle against oppression ever made (almost up there with Satyajit Ray's Distant Thunder, Puenzo's Official Story, and Beresford's Breaker Morant in my book). Like these other films, it beautifully and powerfully focuses on the impact of government violence on the lives of characters who are, at first, unaware of the larger forces which have been shaping their lives.
Mapantsula was ingeniously made under the noses of the South African apartheid censors. The director submitted a script for an innocuous crime-drama, and while the censors were on the set, that is what they filmed. When the censors were not hovering immediately nearby, they filmed the real script - the story of a mapantsula, or thief, who becomes politicized in an apartheid jail. Once they edited the film, they smuggled the finished print out of the country.
The film is at times brutal in its realistic depiction of the physical and psychological tortures employed by the regime of that time. At other times, it is a lyrical and believable evocation of the growing consciousness, and evolving conscience, of the title character, as he encounters more overtly political prisoners in the jail.
I think Mapantsula is far superior to most other anti-apartheid feature films, although I enjoyed (that is to say, I cried through) Menges' A World Apart, and the documentary Last Grave at Dimbaza was superb.
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