Saudades from the One Who Loves You.

Saudades from the One Who Loves You.

Name: Jason Von Berg
jB Productions

Documentary response to Saudades- a film by Richard Pakleppa

In 1974 the Portuguese colonial reign came to an end, to which the consequence was democratic Angola. I use the word consequence because at that time countries that found their independence were for the majority plagued by devastating civil wars. Later it emerged that the Angolan civil war was Africa’s longest running conflict. Over 500 000 thousand people were killed and thousands were displaced. Director Richard Pakleppa and producer Neil Bandt join forces to document the lives of ordinary Angolans in the aftermath of the war entitled “Saudades from the One Who Loves You“. Instead of romanatising about how wonderful life is Angola, now that the war has ended, the two use footage gathered over two years to document the lives of people exhausted by the war, and how there seems to be very little change since the end of the war. It must be stated that Pakleppa does however have faith and belief in Angola, and these aspects are contrasted against the negatives in Angola. In fact one of the most critical and important factors that Pakleppa illustrates is that Angola is, on an annual basis, fast becoming one of the leading and competitve nations in the oil production, yet nearly half of the nation lives in dire poverty-stricken situations. In my opinion one of the most effective tools in film making is that of keeping something simple, and in doing so making a piece that is both effective and convincing. He does this by accurately identifying the problems in Angola, which are fixable. The way in which he does this effectivey is through the use of a continuous poem composed by himself and a man by the name of Paulo Flores.
The film has a series of paradoxical moments and metaphors in it, which together with the visual components support the intended meanings that of what Angolan daily life is like. Two such examples I would suggest best suit this statement include that of the Angolan models and the street children. The crew follows the women in what seems to be some sort of diary entry. The typical glamorous life of a model, getting a call from his or her agent saying there is a shoot he or she is required to be at; he or she heads over to the location, enters into make-up and wardrobe and then completes a successful and perfect shoot. These models are also required to be at the shoot, and they do exactly what is expected of them. Scouts and photographers often require interesting and non-conventional locations. In this particular case the model is situated in an old ruin, possibly a house destroyed during the war. The ruin is visually appealing, and contributes effectively to the shoot. However in this case I am concerned with the paradoxical moment, which is how business interests are captilised on in a place where so much misery was probably experienced. I would suggest that not only is it a significant factor in the shoot for a client, but could also be in an attempt to “get over” the war and move ahead into the future. The street child on the other hand shares his experience of what he does to get by, where he stays etc. It becomes apparent that the little money that he gets from the public is being used to sniff glue and to buy alcohol. In one scene a teenage boy shows the scars that accompany his traumatic experience. There is an obvious social issue rising in this scene in that no child should be subjected to such a problem. This I can relate to in our personal group documentary in that bureaucratic structures in society are limiting the basic right to life, by providing little or nothing to lessen the amount of suffering they are experiencing.
The sound elements in this film are eloquently utilised. For starters the narrator; a South African by the name of Gcina Mhlophe has a very soothing voice. Pakleppa’s use of Mhlophe is in my opinion the perfect final component that supplements the carefully shot interviews and sequences. She, whilst reading the letters to Angola written by Pakleppa and a friend Flores; articulates very well, and seems to be able to describe in a convincing way rather than in an abrupt or a dictating kind of a way. There are several cutaways to the different provinces in Angola, and for the most part the viewer is introduced to a different Portuguese song alongside the cuts to the respective provinces. The songs have evidently been selected for a particular reason, and may have even been composed for the film specifically. For viewers who do not speak Portuguese there are subtitles that assist in gaining more from the film. One criticism I do have is the fact that these subtitles move rather rapidly, and to keep up with them is somewhat problematic, but this did not happen all the time. The film may connote several negative images and results, but there is also a lot of positive attached to it. This again is reiterated by the close connections of the narrator’s script and the visual elements, whereby there is building and improvements of the capital Luanda’s infrastructure. During the war Angolans used to shy away from roads whereby there was mass fighting and killing, however the changes have seen people driving, walking and doing what I would suggest has been taken for granted in countries where democracy has seemingly been an easy and smooth process.

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