Amandla!

on February 19, 2003 by Kim Williamson
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Subtitled "A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony," this Lee Hirsch documentary capsulizes the decades of efforts from the grass-roots level in South Africa to bring an end to apartheid, with a focus on the people's music of the era as a motivating force in that social change. Featuring both internationally-known names like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela and faces that would be known only to those who lived through the struggles alongside them, "Amandla!"--from the Xhosa word for power--certainly tells a tale of fine humanism, but it fails to capture in substantial depth the tragedies and triumphs that militant blacks encountered during the times. One is never "there"; the viewer is relegated to a distant watcher. The spirit of the film is surely willing, but the film's fleshing out, in part due to a greater reliance on current-day commentary than on historical footage, is weak. Directed by Lee Hirsch. Produced by Lee Hirsch and Sherry Simpson. An Artisan release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 103 min.
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