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Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony (2002)

Duma Ka Ndlovu , Vusi Mahlasela , Lee Hirsch  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Duma Ka Ndlovu, Vusi Mahlasela, Walter Cronkite, F.W. de Klerk, Abdullah Ibrahim
  • Directors: Lee Hirsch
  • Writers: Lee Hirsch
  • Producers: Lee Hirsch, Desireé Markgraaff, Johnathan Dorfman, Sherry Simpson, Temple Fennell
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C2IWO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,585 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Dave Matthews interview
  • Q&A with director, producer, and Vusi Mahlasela
  • Vusi at Joe's Pub
  • Production notes
  • Sing-along
  • 45 minutes of deleted scenes and musical performances, including full version of "Coal Train (Stimela)" by Hugh Maskela

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The stunning documentary Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony tells the story of protest music in South Africa--but as it does so, it tells the story of the struggle against apartheid itself, for the music and the revolution are inseparable. Through archival footage and interviews with musicians, freedom fighters, and even members of the former government police, Amandla! creates a vivid and powerful portrait of how music was crucial not only to communicating a political message beyond words, but also to the resistance itself--how songs bonded communities, buoyed resistance in the face of bullets and tear gas, and sowed fear in the ruling elite. Part history, part musical exploration, part sheer force of life, Amandla! captures both the sorrow and the triumph of life in South Africa from the 1950s to 1990, when Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress came into power. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

AMANDLA: A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HISTORY tells the story of black South African freedom music and the central role it played against apartheid. The first film to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanized black South Africans for more than 40 years, AMANDLA'S focus is on the struggle's spiritual dimension, as articulated and embodied in song. Named for the Xhosa word "power," AMANDLA lives up to its title, telling an uplifting story of human courage, resolve and triumph.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We Shall Overcome" It Ain't November 10, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent history of the role of music in the anti-aparthied struggle of S/A. Familiar greats like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masakela are covered as well as interesting lost history such as the tale of Vuyisile Mini (who was hanged in 1964 for fight-the power songs such as "Beware Voeword.").

For the most part, these are not "We Shall Overcome" or "Kum by Ya" type of anthems (though that's cool in it's place). This is hardcore, fight-the power, we ain't gonna take it type of music. Sibongile Kumalo's song about the struggle near the end of the film will bring tears to your eyes-first for the beauty of her voice and THEN when you read the translation! The sequences of the Toyi-toyi (the war dance of S/A) are inspirational and revealing, as is this DVD itself.

Moving scenes abound. A picture is shown of a beautiful S/A teenager sitting prettily on a sofa, then the camera pulls back to reveal that she has a machine gun next to her. One young lady, crying at the funeral of a comrade in the midst of the struggle cries, "I wish I were a dog! I wish I were cattle grazing in the grass!" If you can watch scenes like that with a dry eye then something is WRONG with you!

We also have some extra-rare footage of the young Nelson Mandela (in 1961, prior to his imprisonment) telling of his views on the choice of violence or nonviolence. There is also footage of his sentancing in 1964 and his eventual release. The scenes of his dancing in celebration are a sight to behold!

But enough of this. Get it and see and hear the power that music has over the human spirit! I'd give it ten stars!
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful documentary like no other! September 29, 2003
By Anya K
Format:DVD
Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, was directed by Lee Hirsch, who sold all his possessions and dropped out of college to make the film. That's the level of commitment and passion exhibited by the creators, but it has nothing on the people starring in this documentary, which focuses on the role music and dance played in the downfall of the Apartheid system in South Africa. I cried at the atrocities committed by the government, and nearly danced for joy myself near the end when Nelson Mandela was shown finally released from prison. The most inspiring aspect of the music in this film is that despite the suffering, there isn't a single "sad" song to be found. The soundtrack is unbelievable, featuring performances and interviews by dynamic and influential artists/activists such as Miriam Makeba, Vusi Mahlasela, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Hugh Masekela.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic documentary about the power of music November 7, 2004
Format:DVD
We've all heard cliches about the power of music but this is an amazingly moving film about the real power of music. The movie, shot on a handycam by Lee Hirsch travels through five decades of music and activism in South Africa's history. By looking at the key songs and the men associated with each phase of the struggle, Hirsch does a great job of bringing to life the sheer horror and brutality of everyday life under apartheid. But he also manages to capture the hopes of the revolutionaries through a series of moving and poignant interviews. What struck me about many of the interviews was how spontaneously these activists would break into song to recount their experience. By providing minimal commentary and by letting the songs and men who sang them do the talking, Hirsch has created a masterpiece.

Apart from chronicling the history of the movement, Hirsch also chronicles the lives of many of the activists that the world has forgotten today. The movie opens with the exhumation of Mini's grave to the soulful voice of Vusi Mahlasela. One by one, Hirsch also exhumes heroes and heroines of South Africa's past, particularly musicians, who live only through their songs, and tries to give them their place in the anti-apartheid struggle.

It is also fascinating that the colour of his skin allows Hirsch to shoot some fascinating footage including those of modern white South Africans nostalgic for an earlier age. Hirsch also allows a deft touch of humour to pervade his work, subtly, without ever being disrespectful to his subjects. One of my favourite scenes is where Rathebe recounts how they would sing revolutionary songs and the whites would look at them and praise them for their melody not realising what the actual lyrics were.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMANDLA! IS A MUST SEE November 14, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a black West Indian who had been fortunate enough to see this documentary before I bought the DVD....it is fantastic and moving and emotional and awe inspiring! I looked at it thorugh a veil of tears! Every individual alive regardless of race needs to purchase this DVD and take a good long repeated look at this documentary which chronicles the resilience of the human spirit....I felt inspired to stand on principle and proud to be alive after looking at the documentary. It was REAL...Nothing put on for the cameras...the pride the people felt for their songs and for their leaders and the strength to keep up the fight was palpable throughout...Hugh Masakela, Myriam Makeba and the other performers who faced racism and hatred everyday still loved their country and that was obvious throughout...from the travesty that was Aparthied we now fortunately have a glimpse into one aspect of what it took to keep South African victims of apartheid motivated to fight the power! AMANDLA!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars African History
Excellent presentation ... love the connections to Mandela and the struggle. All African-American students grades 6+ even undergraduate students need to see ... Read more
Published 20 days ago by lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Amandla! The Others Who Fought For and Won Their Freedom in South...
This is a no holds barred film on what it took the people of South Africa to be free of apartheid. The roles of organizations and individuals who fought back through songs,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Barabino
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandiko...
What a gift of history and energy for the final riddance of aparthied.... a good lesson for it being ended here in this country... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Karen Kohr-Blinn
5.0 out of 5 stars Music and Revolution
Music is often associated with causes that lost - the IWW and Spanish Civil War. But it also has inspired struggles for civil rights and even a revolution.
Published 1 month ago by Geodarts
5.0 out of 5 stars The songs of the south african struggle against apartheid are the...
It is a beautiful documentary that gives in detail the history of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Vivian Weinstein
5.0 out of 5 stars Different perspective
Really enjoyed watching from a different perspective of a collective nation vice through the eyes of one person like auto-bio's.
Published 4 months ago by ROBERT
5.0 out of 5 stars Amandla!
I just gave this film another viewing since Mandela passed away and it is a wonderful telling of the Apartheid era in South Africa and the role music played as an outlet for how... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Brian M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amandla
This was a fantastic way to learn the history of the apartheid resistance movement. It is vibrant, informative and really engaging. Read more
Published 8 months ago by m
5.0 out of 5 stars Music and Liberation
I have looked at it on 2 occasions and plan to do so again. As a student of social change, especially where oppression is based on ascriptive and immutable criteria such as race, I... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Maurice St. Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars Good art
The combination of different arts and the passion showed is really nice to watch I never got tired of watching this classic great music
Published 12 months ago by mohamed
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