Jerusalema (2008)

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Released 19-Oct-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Featurette-Making Of-(23.16)
Theatrical Trailer-(2.12)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 113:55 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ralph Ziman
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Ralph Ziman
Daniel Buckland
Robert Hobbs
Eugene Khumbanyiwa
Motlatsi Mahloko
Jafta Mamabolo
Shelley Meskin
Kenneth Nkosi
Ronnie Nyakale
Louise Saint-Claire
Rapulana Seiphemo
Jeffrey Zekele
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Alan Ari Lazar


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Zulu Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Jerusalema is a 2008 South African crime drama. It was submitted by South Africa as its official entry in the Best Foreign language Oscar category.

Jerusalema is the story, told mostly in flashback, of Lucky Kunele a black South African growing up in the slums of Soweto. The title comes from a popular gospel song adverting to the tortuous path of redemption and the attractions of easy money.

Lucky is no brainless thug but his aspirations of going to university have been thwarted by a lack of funds. Lucky determines to pay for his studies and falls into the ranks of local crime boss Nazareth, who recognizes the young mans potential. Through a series of mostly comic adventures, heavy on the audacity and light on the violence, Lucky sees that crime might just pay. After a bungled robbery and exposure to hard core criminal bloodletting Lucky and his best friend Zakes decide to lose themselves in Johannesburg. Ten years later and the grand visions of the pair (Lucky played as an adult by Rapulana Seiphemo and Zakes by Ronnie Nyakale) have amounted to nought. They share ownership of a taxi and can barely pay to live in their derelict apartment in the Hillbrow area of Johannesburg, ironically called Dunvista Mansions. Hillbrow, the centre or inner-city crime has as its landmark the communications tower which acts as a beacon and a thumbtack, centring the geography of the film.

After a taste of their own medicine, when Lucky is carjacked and his taxi stolen, things look desperate. Surveying his bleak surroundings Lucky forms a plan. He opens a bank account and starts a business known as the Hillbrow Peoples Housing Trust. The idea is simple yet effective. Arrange for all the tenants in a run-down apartment building to pay the rent to him, kick out all the drug dealers and prostitutes and pressure the owners to reduce rents. After initial success the plan gets even simpler. Occupy the premises until the landlord can't pay the property expenses, thanks to the slow pace of civil justice in the new South Africa, and buy it up at a mortgagee sale. That's right, Lucky steals buildings!

Lucky becomes the king of the city, all the while carrying a veneer of being a respectable property owner. Things begin to look up for Lucky when he ditches his old fraudster girlfriend and takes up with a respectable white nutritionist Leah. He buys a swish house and brings benevolence to his old home and family. Only his long suffering mother, who sees redemption through God as the greatest of virtues, cannot embrace his new found status.

. Just as the silver lining begins to show troubles arrive from all quarters. Disgruntled cop Blakkie Swart (Robert Hobbs) has made it is mission to bring Lucky down. He is assisted in this by a Nigerian drug dealer who wants to associate himself with Lucky, bringing the criminality more to the surface. Things aren't helped when Nazareth, now an offsider to Lucky, forms a serious drug habit and sells his former protege out for the lure of the white powder.

Jerusalema is promoted as South Africa's answer to City of God although it obviously feels closer to the South African crime story Tsotsi which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2006. That the film is the lesser of those titles is no insult - both were riveting and harrowing by turn. Jerusalema is perhaps lacking in narrative suggesting director Ralph Ziman struggled to get a tight script out of this apparently true story. What can't be denied is his directorial flair, perhaps gained from his career as a video clip director, which sees the film rocket along with barely a dull moment. It is also difficult to imagine that the wealthy white Freilander family wouldn't have worked out fairly early in the piece that their future son-in-law wasn't kidding when he described himself as a gangster.

There are nice performances from the central cast and the film looks and sounds good. Having seen District 9 the night before with the Hillbrow Tower as a landmark, and featuring a number of the Jerusalema actors, it is worth pondering whether the aliens or Lucky posed a greater threat to the safety of the people of Johannesburg!

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Jerusalema was shot on 35mm film and projected at a 2.35:1 cinematic aspect ratio.

That ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Director Ziman aimed for and has achieved a gritty look for the film which means that the movie has a slightly grainy, textured look. The print used is not entirely clear of artefacts although the damage is minor and only to be spotted by the eagle-eyed.

The colours are slightly tinted but otherwise stable and the shadows are well defined.

There are burned in subtitles wherever the filmmakers think that they are need. More on that below.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Jerusalema carries a Dolby Digital soundtrack 2.0 running at 224 Kb/s.

The DVD case mistakenly refers to a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Additionally, the case also suggest that the film is in English with English subtitles. That is not really correct. The film is partly in English and partly, according to IMDB, Fanagalo which is a mix of languages including Zulu, Xhosa, English and Afrikaans. Sometimes the English will be subtitled too.

Whatever the language it can be heard clearly in the film.

Music is a mixture of an original score and traditional songs including the Jerusalema of the title which is rendered in a variety of fashions.

There are no technical problems with the transfer.

The actors look to be in audio sync.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The DVD contains really only one extra but it is quite good.

Making of Jerusalema (23.16)

This fairly lengthy Making of featurette is a pretty comprehensive guide to the film. It contains quite a few excerpts from the film and the trailer but it is not all fluff and there are decent interview segments with all the key cast members as well as the director and producer of the film. The director talks about the joys and difficulties in filming in such a notorious area (the security detachment was the largest part of the crew) and outlines how he became interested in writing about and filming a story of the new South Africa. We see lots of stunt preparations and the actors joking around on the set.

Theatrical Trailer (2.12)

A good guide to the film

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   This is a Region 4 release. The film has apparently come out in South Africa but not yet in Region 1. According to limited sources the Making of featurette is only on our version.

Summary

    Jerusalema is a pretty decent crime drama which benefits from the locale of urban Johannesburg. It is no masterpiece but a good way to spend a Friday night at home.

The image and sound quality are fine and the extra is definitely worth a watch.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, January 15, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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