I have to admit that I have never watched a movie from South Africa. This film is the first South African movie I have ever watched and I just loved it. In fact, the judges at the 55th Berlin Film Festival might think in the same way as I did (or vice versa,) because this movie won the Golden Bear at the film festival in 2005. It is the first movie from South Africa to be honored with this highly respectful award.
I guess what made this movie stood out from its competitors at the film festival is the creativity and originality of the director and producer, Mark Dornford-May. He adapted a tragedy story of "Carmen," one of the most beloved opera created by Georges Bizet since 1875, from the 18th century European setting to the present day of Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s largest townships. The movie actually goes beyond anyone’s imagination by combining a classical opera, which the ensemble of the cast actually performs, with a story in the movie. The original lyrics are translated into "Xhosa" language, one of the native languages of the country, and mixed with traditional songs. Even though I didn’t understand a word of the so-called "Xhosa" language, I could still enjoy the movie through a powerful performance and wonderful music. I guess it’s true to say that music is a universal language. You don’t have to understand the lyrics to enjoy a beautiful melody and tune. In fact, the leading actress Pauline Malefane, who starred as "Carmen" in this film, is an opera singer and she’s got an incredibly powerful and beautiful voice. The rest of the cast members also belong to the opera house in their home country. That’s why a movie that sings opera could actually come to live on the screen.
5 Stars out of 5 – Having an idea to make this movie is incredible. Making it possible is more incredible. Making it perfect is the most incredible but it did happen. This is enough for a reason to watch this movie.