Amandla! A Revolution In Four-Part Harmony Movie Review

I'm used to being branded a cynic, heathen, asshole, or what have you, but once again I have to admit I found myself toiling to get through a documentary about an obscure subject matter... only to find myself still as ambivalent about the issue as I was before starting the film.

This time it's Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, which outlines the role that homegrown music had during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Obscure? You bet! Incredibly interesting? Not in the slightest!

Amandla! (translation: Power!) largely consists of interviews with various organizers who lived through apartheid, reminiscing about the battles they fought and the songs they sang. The songs are recreated in the present and/or shown via archive footage. They unilaterally are translated via subtitles with lyrics like "White man, watch out for the black man!" and "The white man, he makes us live in these shanty towns!"

In other words, not a lot of subtlety and not a lot of variation. Even funeral dirges bemoan the evil white man.

Now before you get your panties in a twist, I am not trying to say this is a bad message. The white man is bad. He's real bad. I agree just how bad he is. You don't need to write to me to tell me how bad apartheid was and how insensitive I am for not giving this movie five stars because it's about apartheid and how ignorant the world is about apartheid and so on. You will anyway, but you'd don't need to. Apartheid is bad. The white man is bad. It's all bad. Real bad.

But this 100-minute documentary about the music sang during apartheid is simply not good. It is endlessly repetitive and, to be frank, boring, and it adds little to our understanding of life under apartheid. The songs are okay, but they sound very similar: all acapella chant-style songs with variable lyrics and questionable harmony. (And I don't know where this "four-part harmony" bit is coming from; few of the songs have any harmony at all and those that do only have two parts. Note to filmmaker Lee Hirsch: A bunch of people singing out of key is not a four-part harmony.)

Now Hirsch has obviously poured his soul into this movie and I don't want to be the party crasher, but really, did you need to make an exhaustive feature film on the subject? For such an obscure and quirky subject, wouldn't a ten-minute short film be plenty of time to explore the subject matter in full instead of boring us to tears by repeating yourself over and over and over again? It was for me.

Raisin' the roof.

Comments

Amandla! A Revolution In Four-Part Harmony Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2002

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Is Biggest Movie of 2014. Can 'Interstellar' Beat It?

Marvel's giant summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy is officially the biggest...

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Is Biggest Movie of 2014. Can 'Interstellar' Beat It?

Al Pacino in Oscars Hunt After Stunning Venice Film Festival with 'Manglehorn'

Al Pacino, now 74, has nothing left to prove in the acting word. He has an Oscar, four...

Al Pacino in Oscars Hunt After Stunning Venice Film Festival with 'Manglehorn'

New York's Electric Zoo Cancelled Over "Extreme Weather"

New York's Electric Zoo music festival has been cancelled for the second time in...

New York's Electric Zoo Cancelled Over

Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) [Live]

Ahead of their recently announced sixth studio album, Fall Out Boy have released a...

Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) [Live] Video

Nude Pictures of Jennifer Lawrence Leak, But Hacker Is On Borrowed Time

Hundreds of explicit images of celebrities including nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence...

Nude Pictures of Jennifer Lawrence Leak, But Hacker Is On Borrowed Time

Owl City - This Isn't The End Video

The video for the Owl City song, 'This Isn't The End' has been released. The...

Owl City - This Isn't The End Video

The Bug - Angels & Devils Album Review

The Bug, Kevin Martin, may only just be releasing his fourth album under that name in seventeen years but he has hardly been...

The Bug - Angels & Devils Album Review

Stunning 'Foxcatcher' Leaves Eerie Mark on Telluride Film Festival

Bennett Miller's intense drama Foxcatcher - which previously scored five-star review at the...

Stunning 'Foxcatcher' Leaves Eerie Mark on Telluride Film Festival

"Supreme Mediocrity": Will Self Describes George Orwell as "Plain Wrong"

Will Self has delivered a scathing attack on George Orwell, describing the writer - one...

Advertisement