Come Back, Africa (1959)
Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 12
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 0
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 0
No consensus yet.
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User Ratings: 34
American documentary producer/director Lionel Rogosin followed up his Oscar-nominated film On the Bowery (1956) with another docudrama about the disenfranchised, Come Back Africa. Lensed for the most part in Johannesburg, the film follows a Zulu family that has been uprooted from its native environs and plunked down in the middle of a strange urban "jungle". Due to the repressiveness of the South African powers-that-were, Rogosin was forced to shoot his film with hidden cameras, then obliged to
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"Come Back, Africa" is most effective as an ethnographic documentary, with cinema verite images of white privilege and black poverty.
While the sights and the sounds aren't enough to constitute a great movie in and of themselves, they do result in a fascinating document.
Rogosin was showing a vital culture on the brink, at the moment when it was calcifying into the form it would hold for more than three decades to come.
Come Back, Africa is a timely and remarkable piece of cinema journalism: a matter-of-fact, horrifying study of life in the black depths of South African society.
(The film)succeeds simultaneously as activism, as drama, and as a time capsule. It feels like the delicate spell would be broken if a single variable was altered.
Miriam Makeba's sensual song performances gives the film a level of vibrancy and passionate energy.
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