Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26

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Critic Reviews

  1. Told with such sadness and exaltation, such mastery of image and sound, that watching it makes you feel renewed and hopeful.
  2. A documentary that is as thoughtful and inspiring as the music it celebrates.
  3. 90
    Hirsch edits segments together to merge disparate voices, showing how for this movement, music was no universal language -- it was specific, pointed, and almost paranormal in its power.
  4. It leaves you stirred and uplifted not only by its music but also by the determination and courage of the people who sang and danced it on the way to a freer life.
  5. What songs, what people and what a triumph that their music won in the end.
  6. 90
    In Amandla!, history doesn't just come alive--it sings, dances, and issues a passionate plea for justice and equality. The film joyously celebrates music as both a means to an end and an end unto itself.
  7. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Exhaustively informative and powerfully emotional.
  8. The film they have put together is dense with sound and information, but it moves with a swift, lilting rhythm that is of a piece with the musical heritage it explores.
  9. Finds a way to impart this sad history while raising our spirits at the same time.
  10. Viewers will leave Amandla! moved by the music, impressed by the musicians and dubious about the possibility of political and social healing.
  11. Reviewed by: Jeff Stark
    The soul of the film, in some ways, is singer Vuyisile Mini, a songwriter and anti-apartheid leader who was hanged in 1964. Amandla! (it's the Xhosa word for "power").
  12. Scattershot but rousing documentary.
  13. Reviewed by: Alan Morrison
    If your anti-Apartheid musical knowledge only goes as far as The Specials’ Free Nelson Mandela, this is a toe-tapping, thought-provoking education.
  14. 75
    Music was the ANC's most dangerous weapon, and we see footage of streets lined with tens of thousands of marchers, singing and dancing, expressing an unquenchable spirit.
  15. The value of Amandla! is that the film helps the rest of the world understand, both with our ears and minds, where South Africans have come from.
  16. 70
    At times Hirsch seems afraid to trust the material's inherent drama and becomes unnecessarily manipulative, staging performances in striking landscapes and playing the footage in slow motion.
  17. Cinema has done a fine job of documenting the anti-apartheid movement, even if too often the spotlight shone brightest on the white man through whom the black man's story was being told.
  18. The songs of the South African freedom fighters were a literal call to arms. The music succeeded -- magnificently. The movie, on the other hand, is only so-so.
  19. Though overlong and repetitive, Hirsch's film is vitalized by the same music that helped keep the revolutionary spirit alive.
  20. The film itself is a bit on the talking-head side, evoking none of the passion and anguish that are the music's trademarks.
  21. 50
    Watching the uncertain and disappointing new apartheid documentary Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony'' is like going to the lecture of an impassioned but really disorganized professor.
  22. 50
    Needs less talk, more music.
  23. Most successful as a tribute to the martyrs of the anti-apartheid struggle. It fails, however, as a well-reasoned documentary on the subject of the relationship of music to social change.
  24. There are lots of lively tunes in an excellent cause, but in the end you wish you'd either probed more deeply into historical events or heard more uninterrupted minutes of inspired performing.

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