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Movie Review: Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony

Story: Music soothes the savage beast and can also inspire a revolution as shown in this moving documentary about the misery of South Africa's apartheid policy.

American director Lee Hirsch spent nine years on this project. He depicts a governments' brutal policy and its effects on its people that lasted from 1948 to the democratic election of Nelson Mandela as President, in 1994. A half century of repression is relived through a people's music that becomes the communicator of strife, strength and eventually action.

The story is told via the people who lived through the nightmare whether in exile as ambassadors to the cause (Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela) or inside the country as revolutionaries. The tale begins and ends with the exhumation of one of South Africa's activists and poets (Vuyisile Mini) who was hung and buried in a paupers grave to his relocation at a heroes memorial site.

How a people's music went from a woeful plaintive tune of repression at the beginning of apartheid to the loud, aggressive 'Toyi Toyi' chanting which intimately led to a free people is truly inspiring. How this message was carried through music to the frustrated and forlorn and how the people eventually rallied to overcome makes one's heart beat faster and gives hopes to all who despair.

Acting: It's a documentary -- so this category is not applicable. However, the retelling of these personal tales by the folks who lived through them I dare say would not be any better than if you had the best actors that money could buy in their places.

Predilections: I like documentaries and I have a soft spot in my heart for the people who suffered through apartheid.

Visual Art: Posters.

Soundtrack: Amazing. I am headed to the store to buy some of the artists' music who were featured in the film.

Opening Titles: Stark.

Theater Audience: One other woman and two of us.

Squirm Scale: It was difficult to listen to some of the retired South African white police officers as they spoke of the past.

Tissue Usage: You would have to have a heart made of stone not to be moved by this film.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: I would have liked to have had more of a time line in the narrative. I am familiar with this country's dark history but more historical details would have put it in better perspective.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen. If this subject interests you -- also rent Cry Freedom (the very powerful story of Steven Biko, played by Denzel Washington) and Mandela.

Length: 90 moving minutes.