Monday, October 31, 2011

"Can't you at least pretend to be scared?"

Another weekend that lacked any new movies I wanted to see and an unexpected snow storm meant I was able to catch up on DVDs I had not yet had a chance to watch. As a fan of Taylor Kitch on Friday Night Lights, I decided to check out his most recent film, The Bang Bang Club.

The Bang Bang Club is based on the true story of four South African photojournalists who captured the last days of apartheid, from when Nelson Mandela was released from jail to the 1994 election, on film: Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva. It is based on the autographical book by Silva and Marinovich called The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010 but was only ever in limited release in theaters.

The story was very moving. It did not give you a whole lot of background on the characters, but you get a glimpse of how they experienced the violence in South Africa between 1990 and 1994. These four guys are basically the way that the rest of the world knew exactly was going on in this country at the time. During this period, two of them won Pulitzer Prizes for their work. Unfortunately, also during this period, two of them lost their lives - one while taking pictures during a firefight and the other took his own life.

The South African accents took a little getting used to, but the performances by Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman were great. I also really enjoyed newcomers Frank Rautenbach and Neels Van Jaarsveld. My only real complaint was that they tried to cover several years in a short amount of time, so it often felt as if it jumped around a little too much. Some scenes were one day after another and then it would go ahead a couple months.

The story itself is pretty incredible. These guys put their lives in danger on a daily basis so that they could capture the images that no one else could. They got in the middle of fights and went into parts of the county that most people avoided because of the violence. They did not take sides politically but simply captured the images of what was happening.

If you know everything there is to know about apartheid, or even if you know nothing at all, this movie is a must see. I would not say that it is the best movie I have ever seen, but the story is one that everyone should know and it is told in a very compelling way.


PS. I have included the actual Pulitzer Prize winning photos by Greg Marinovich and Kevin Carter here:

Photo by Kevin Carter in Sudan

Photo by Greg Marinovich in South Africa