DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: David Haviland

Read David Haviland's film review of Amandla!

Amandla! is a very impressive DVD package, with a range of unusually interesting special features. Overall, it's another high-quality release from Metrodome, despite the visual quality being occasionally limited by the nature of the source footage, both in the main feature and a number of the extras. The transfer is sharp, with rich colours, no noticeable blips, and, importantly, fantastic sound quality, with Dolby 2.0 and surround sound options.

A lot of thought has gone into the package and the extras, which offer a range of innovative material that fans of the film will appreciate. The first of these is a Q & A session at an American university with director Lee Hirsch, producer Sherry Simpson, and one of the stars of the film, Vusi Mahlasela. The audience is overwhelmingly positive, so there are no tough questions, but the warmth of the response to the film is engaging, particularly one 50-year-old woman who gives an emotional speech praising the filmmakers for their courage and good taste.

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Next is a brief concert by Mahlasela, filmed in South Africa, giving us another chance to appreciate this incredible performer. There is also an interview with American rock star Dave Matthews, who produced the film's soundtrack, explaining his enthusiasm for the project. Most interestingly, the DVD has a Sing-A-Long section, featuring four songs from the film in full with subtitled lyrics. Letela Uxdlo is the highlight, if only because it showcases Nelson Mandela's rather stiff dancing.

If this weren't enough, there are also deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, extensive production notes and an audio commentary from Hirsch and Simpson, which is really of interest only to serious documentary fans, as it deals mostly with the filmmaking process and the choices made along the way.

Amandla! is an extremely comprehensive and useful DVD package.

Reviewed on: 18 Apr 2004
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Amandla! packshot
Documentary exploring the history of protest songs in apartheid South Africa.
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Product Code: MTD5138

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

Extras: Q&A with director Lee Hirsch, producer Sherry Simpson, performer Vusi Mahlasela; interview withDave Matthews; deleted scenes; musical performances (45 mins); sing-a-long; production notes; trailer

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