Tuesday, June 06, 2006

U-Carmen eKhayelitsha

Can there be anything fresh to add to this screen carnival of Carmens? U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (12A), directed by Mark Dornford-May, transplants Carmen to a present-day South African township, Khayelitsha, and fuses the familiar story and music with the language, rhythms and everyday details of a shantytown setting outside Cape Town.

It becomes an energetically shot, realistic semidocumentary on urban South Africa invigorated by an unlikely melodramatic European opera soundtrack. It ultimately works, and transcends being a musical novelty or graceless curdle of traditions, because it has a unique Carmen – lusty, volatile Pauline Malefane tears through the story, giving us an exhilarating Carmen on a knife-edge between the determined and the demented.


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