Soldiers of the Rock Review



By Mejeke K. Maurice Jones

Norman Maake’s directorial debut is cinematic/karmic  kaleidoscope encompasses a boiling and poignant saga of the fraternity of determination and Shaka Zulu like strength that is the bedrock of a cadre of South African gold miners. Depending on the view on takes, these gallant men are centurions who ritualistic surgeons who daily descend into the bowels of Mamma Africa to extract precious gems or “boo-yaa” as gold is known amongst the miners and in the contemporary parlance of hip-hop and the bling-bling aficionados…The work of cinematographer Natalie Haarhof and the compositions of Benjamin Willem offer an honor and dignity to the claustrophobic courage and hellish handsome spirit of the ensemble cast. Vuyo, a young man returns to the mines to make “peace with the spirit” of his father, who toiled for 35 years in the mines and died when he was struck upon the head and his wages willed that his son’s could educated.  Amidst drumming, drilling and blasting the young business student is met with trepidation by his father’s comrades but experiences exorcise epiphany below ground level among the workers on the lowest and most dangerous levels of the mine. A juxtaposition of gold, gore and glory, this excursion commanders the audience from sunrise to sunset and beyond the darkness that must come emerges from light of the worker-owned and operated New Vision Mines. The conga cadence of whimpering, cursing, chanting, fighting and fearless warriors. Is candid, courageous and simply devastatingly stunning

The tense, taunt tale of a show down in the shaft covers the fine features of handsome men and the mysticism that inevitable bathes there soul of golden dust. Stunning cinematography accentuates that further and fate of the magnificent miners against tradition and change, tribalism and the counsel of Banda, the mine witchdoctor.  The protagonist Vuyo is a virgin man in this scenario of jaded souls, but nonetheless monarch because of their courage and persistence. This tour de force is ultimately a glory tale of post-apartheid bittersweet victory.


Lincoln Center African American Film Festival
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