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“Dilemma”, by Henning Carlsen

Janeiro 8, 2010

Dilemma” (1962, Denmark/South Africa), Directed by Henning Carlsen
Screenplay by Nadine Gordimer (from “A World of Strangers“)
Music by Max Roach, Gideon Nxumalo

Starring Zakes Mokae—the great actor noted for his roles in Athol Fugard‘s plays—and based on Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer‘s 1959 novel A World of Strangers, Dilemma was filmed clandestinely, and perilously, in Johannesburg, at a time when the harsh realities of apartheid and the vibrant rhythms of black township life would have been a stunning revelation to most Westerners. Over four decades later, the power and beauty of Carlsen’s film have not diminished. A Danish director best known for his brilliant adaptation of Knut Hamsun‘s “Hunger“, Carlsen blends documentary and fiction to tell the story of a white liberal torn between the privileges and snobbery of the gated suburbs and his more heartfelt friendships with blacks in the townships. The film’s score interweaves American jazz, blues, and South African marabi, from Max Roach‘s conscience-raising Freedom Now Suite (1960), featuring the soulful voice of Abbey Lincoln, to the joyous, hip-swaying melodies of Gideon Nxumalo heard in the townships’ multiracial, underground shebeen (speakeasies).

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