Angels In The Dust
R0 - America - Cinema Libre
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields (16th February 2008).
The Film

Isn't it amazing? Sometimes you look around your own streets and see neighborhoods where children look as though they are neglected, or you look at them and think how they may never succeed in life. There are several reasons for this: upbringing, lack of government support, people in general who just don't care when it comes to them and the list goes on and on. But there are children in other parts of the world who have worse lives than those children may have, depending on where it is you may be living. It is some of those children who live in third-world countries who aren't given the opportunity for education or given the motivation to want to make something of themselves. And it's even worse still when that country is faced with an AIDS epidemic. It's reading about things like this in the newspapers, or watching events like this on the news, or having to watch a documentary that is presented to you for review that makes you think. I know I'm just one person compared to the countless numbers that inhabit Starship Earth, but there are so much that I think about when this sort of thing is presented to me. In my case, I'm thinking about how not enough is being done to help third-world countries. I am thinking about how fortunate that I am to have had the opportunities presented to me, and that I could have very easily been in the same situation as some of the children in this documentary. I am thinking about how I am counting my blessings each and every day. My question to all of you who are reading this review will be: What will YOU be thinking about once you've watched this film? Or others like it?
"Angels In the Dust" (1:34:22) is the inspiring story of Marion Cloete who, with her family, fearlessly walked away from a life of privilege in Johannesburg to start an orphanage for more than 550 South African children. For a nation overwhelmed by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and recovering from Apartheid's legacy, Marion's orphanage offers a pathway to hope.
I liked seeing that the Cloete family is there to help the South African children to try and overcome the odds. These same children may never have otherwise had hopes or opportunities. While the Cloetes cannot possibly take care of EVERY child in that nation, they are at least trying to do their part to help the ones that ARE under their care and to allow them a chance to be all they can possibly be while they're still live. They are even given a glimpse of happiness before they are gone. I like that even the daughters are onboard and doing all they can to help out. Also, Marion doesn't give any of the children up without a fight. She fights for them until AIDS finally takes them.
The downsides? Well, this IS a documentary. In most cases, you are going to see the good along with the bad. Documentaries like this don't candy-coat anything. You will hear some real-life horror stories from some of the interviewee's first-hand at how they had become infected with AIDS. I think it forces people who watch this to understand that AIDS is not about to go away anytime soon. It was the mid-1980's when I had first heard about the disease....well, guess what? It's 2008 and there's STILL no cure! And AIDS doesn't just affect drug addicts and teenagers with raging hormones. While you may not see anything like that in "Angels In the Dust", it is revealed that AIDS has other methods of being passed on in South Africa. Unfortunately, rape is just as much a factor here as it is in any other part of the world. If anything, I think it's more appalling and worse in South Africa than in the modernized nations. You will also see some suffering here as well as a result of the disease. Yes, AIDS is still a frightening reality to this very day. I hate having to be reminded that AIDS is still a very real threat in our world, but unfortunately that's life as we have it now. Yes, this is also another one of those films where you may want to think twice before you say something like, "Oh, this will NEVER happen to me."
My final word: If you want to watch a horror movie, then go watch "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) or "Friday the 13th" (1979). But if you REALLY want to watch a horror movie, one that's true to life, then "Angels In the Dust" is one that can really give you a good scare. In my opinion, this is one of the most difficult films I have ever had to see, and it's not because of a bad script or bad acting. Why so? Because what happens in this movie is something that can just as easily happen in any country, not just South Africa. Even the United States or the European Union are not exempt. I definitely recommend this movie for the learning experience alone. But I warn you, this is not for the squeamish.

Video

The film is presented in anamorphic Widescreen format (1.85:1 ratio). The transfer looks very nice and has the feel of watching a documentary which might be presented at a film festival or an independent art house cinema. You can definitely see all of the details with fine clarity. It looks as though this documentary could have been filmed in High Definition. Even the extras look just as good. There are no flaws of any kind.

Audio

The film features an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. You can hear the dialogue quite clearly, including the dialect from the South African people. To sum it up, it's a little louder than a regular feature film. This in addition to the video gives that film festival feel when watching it. There are non-removable English subtitles present during the parts where the South African English dialogue may be hard to understand or when the dialogue is not in English. The subtitles are not word for word for the South African English audio, but they get the point across.

Extras

Cinema Libre has included an audio commentary, 18 deleted scenes, a featurette, 2 public service announcements, 3 theatrical trailers, a donation information page, and DVD-ROM content as extras on this DVD. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up there's an audio commentary track featuring co-producer/writer/director Louise Hogarth and co-editor/director of photography May Rigler. Here you will learn a lot of things that you won't find in either the film or the extras. The two of them also elaborate on a few things that are touched on in the film, like the rapes that go on. If you're technical junkie, then this commentary track may not be for you. This is more information than anything else, some scene specific. It's definitely worth the listen, if you managed to get through film okay. Remember, the movie is not for the squeamish. Neither is the commentary.

18 deleted scenes are present (not 16 x 9 enhanced). These can be played individually or together with the 'Play All' option. Here is the list and what they are:

- "Chicken Heads" runs for 1 minute 20 seconds : You learn where this source of food comes from.
- "Drunk Mother" runs for 3 minutes 3 seconds : Marion and one of the kids give a mother a hard time for being drunk when she comes to see her son.
- "Elephant Comes To Bothsabelo" runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds : Marion and the children are gathered together and are watching a baby elephant.
- "Feeding Pigs" runs for 38 seconds : Two of the children go out to feed the pigs.
- "Funeral Of A Village Extended Scene" runs for 6 minutes 22 seconds : See much footage that wasn't in the final cut for this scene.
- "Laundry Ladies" runs for 1 minute 4 seconds : Some South African women are having fun while washing clothes. Unfortunately, there is a sad revelation at the end of the scene.
- "Lebo" runs for 6 minutes 15 seconds : Marion is spending time with Lebo and talks about her.
- "Lillian Fairy Story" runs for 4 minutes 37 seconds : Marion tells Lillian a story. As she tells it, some of the other children act it out.
- "Lillian Mommy Sound" runs for 1 minutes 7 seconds : Marion explains what this is and how it makes children who were raped feel better. Lillian demonstrates the sound.
- "Lillian Shows Her Wings" runs for 49 seconds : Marion tells the children about angels. When she asks Lillian how big her wings are, she shows everybody.
- "Marion Dispenses Medicine" runs for 2 minutes 11 seconds : Marian examines the children and gives medicine to those who need it.
- "Martha Dying" runs for 4 minutes 17 seconds : Marion examines her. Then you see her on her deathbed.
- "Phillip" runs for 3 minutes 3 seconds : He has a life story to tell.
- "Polani and Lebo" runs for 1 minutes 45 seconds : When Polani won't eat and wanders off, it is Lebo who finds her and gets her to come around.
- "Pumba The Pig" runs for 1 minute 11 seconds : Marion is feeding the pets: a few dogs and one little pig.
- "Simon" runs for 1 minute 48 seconds : You get to hear his sad story and see how he gets by.
- "The Bead Example" runs for 4 minutes 46 seconds : Marion explains to the children the significance between beads and all that God gives us.
- "Virginia And The Hospital" runs for 2 minutes 46 seconds : Marion talks about Virginia and how she has to move to a new hospital since she is older.

The featurette "Interview With Marion One Year Later"' runs 8 minutes and 10 seconds. Here you see Director Hogarth interviewing Cloete one year after she filmed the documentary. Marion explains why she allowed Hogarth to film the documentary as opposed to others.

There are 2 public service announcements (http://www.participate.net):

- The first is by Jo Frost and runs for 1 minute 1 second.
- The second is by actress Alicia Witt and runs 57 seconds. This one is also seen before the start of the Main Menu.

The disc also includes the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes.

2 bonus trailers from Cinema Libre are also here for your enjoyment and include:

- "Desert Bayou" which runs for 6 minutes 30 seconds.
- "Empire In Africa" which runs for 1 minute 11 seconds.

There is a donation information page for Boikarabelo (http://www.takepart.com/angels).

The DVD-ROM feature is an Internet program included on the DVD. By selecting this option, it will give you instructions on how to install it for Windows and MAC.

Overall

The Film: A+ Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


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