An African-Western Movie Review.
The disappointing ticket sale statistics for Five Fingers for Marseilles compelled me to write this post. I could tell you that the movie is good, bleeping brilliant, but “good” isn’t going to make you want to get off your couch and spend money and time to see it!
It’s good, good how? Why?
The reasoning behind the raving reviews must be unpacked so that people are given something to rally behind.
So here we go reasons why you should watch Five Fingers for Marseilles:
- It’s a South African first
I will admit when I first saw the movie trailer, it didn’t appeal to me – at all.What the hell does a Western have to do with South Africa? How did the two genres even meet? On which ocean did this genre ship its way onto South African cinemas? But the quality of the trailer caught my attention for this local production.Oh, how we love to cry beloved South Africans that our stories are not being told. We cry keledi hi hi (wailing tears) that our actors are not in films about our country. Well here is a film, a SOUTH AFRICAN FIRST and we fail to get our bums on cinema seats.During its 7-year long production, Five Fingers for Marseilles was awarded Best South African Film in Development at the Durban FilmMart’s finance forum in 2013. Hello, the film was even finished yet and it won an award. Come on!
- A celebration of African dialectThe majority of this film is in the Sesotho language, you know the language of the people who wear those beautiful Aranda blankets. isiXhosa and isiZulu speaking actors spent months learning a language that is not their own, to play out a script that was originally written in English!The use of Sesotho brings an element of soothing to the very violent nature of the film. The language is so poetic it feels almost Shakespearean. But be warned it’s a western so expect guts and gore the cinematography left nothing to the imagination in terms of gore.
- It’s a love storyWhen I walked out of the cinema I did not feel like I just watched a western. The message of the movie was multi-faceted that calling it a western does it no justice.Tau, the main character, truly comes alive when he is forced to protect his childhood love Lerato. His fight is the ultimate Sesotho love letter to Lerato, to friendship, to the land, and to the people.
Frankly speaking, it’s a badass love story.
- Depicts social-economical issuesThe portrayal of socio-economic issues is so vast and relatable not only to South Africa but issues around the world!
The directors did not want to focus on this aspect of the film but I will. The forgotten colonial town of Marseilles, an actual forgotten South African rural town in the Free State (damned if I knew that), is under a new threat. That new threat – ownership. Tau, the main character comes back to fight for and protect THE LAND!The threat is that of a gang which highlights the issue of gang-related violence and having people stand against it. There are issues on gender-based violence, racial issues, religious issues, empowerment issues and just so much more.
- We are no longer distractedNow, this is purely based on my own observations and perhaps even imagination but we were distracted at the time that this movie was released. People were still coming down the Black Panther hype, then Mam Winnie Madikizela passed away and we mourned for two weeks. All public and media attention was diverted.Not anymore, there are no more excuses. South Africa cinemas showing this film are down to 5 so now is the time show up for this spectacular film with five fingers fisted and thrusted into the air.Let be known that we have our own South African T’Challa in the superhero character Tau.The film is set to hit cinemas in 15 American cities, Scandinavia countries and Japan and I foresee profound success for it internationally and South Africans will be ashamed that they didn’t support this film the way it deserves. I am ashamed that I waited this long to see it. Don’t make that mistake.