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by Loren Nel
Hailed by The Star as “One of the country's most legendary films,” eLollipop, first released by Universal Pictures in 1976 and revived in 2004 as the opening film for the South African retrospective at the Cannes Film Festival, is certainly one of South Africa's greatest cinematic achievements.
Based on the story by Andre Pieterse, the film boasts a stellar cast, including Oscar winner Jose Ferrer, and Golden Globe nominee Karen Valentine. It is skilfully and powerfully directed by Ashley Lazarus. However, the hearts of the audience are largely won over by the marvellous performances of Muntu Ndebele, who plays the role of Tshepo, a young African boy who becomes the best friend of Jannie (played by Norman Knox), an orphaned white boy who is left at the door of a mission station in the remote Lesotho mountains.
When Jannie is involved in a tragic accident, and is rushed to America to receive the emergency surgery that he needs, the community pulls together to send Tshepo to be with him. The young African finds himself in a bustling world that he does not understand, but is reunited with his friend, and proudly hands him the symbol of their bond; a lollipop that he has brought all the way from his village's outpost store.
Set in the rugged beauty of the Lesotho Highlands, the film unfolds with a nostalgia reminiscent of The Gods Must Be Crazy, but quickly develops into a gripping story that centres around the inseparable relationship between a black and a white boy in a country strongly divided by racial tension, and explores various subtle complexities in South Africa in the late 20th century. The Christian Mission station is juxtaposed with the tribal beliefs of the witchdoctor, the modernisation of the western world is starkly contrasted with the tradition and simplicity of the African way of life, and the audience is constantly reminded that reality is seldom predictable and is never straightforward.
In light of the fact that the seventies were one of the most racially turbulent periods in South African history, Andre Pieterse's story is bold and provocative, and caused much controversy when brought to the public. However, the film also uses delightful humour and wonderful characterisation while exploring the beautiful friendship between the two boys, the personal growth of the American aid worker who slowly learns to understand and value the ways of the African people, the bigheartedness of the Mission staff and the courage and selflessness of the tribal community.
eLollipop is a poignant tribute to the possibility of what could be; described by director Ashley Lazarus as “a reflection of what was good and what was loving in South Africa “.
Posted in books | Available from Capricorn Media
Posted by Loren Nel
01 Aug 2007

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The movie was great. I was 10 when I watched it. It still has it's influences on me. Sacrificing yourself to keep someone alive. A wonderfull site to see.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Arezoo Sorkhi on 03 May 2009

Hey Darryll, So weird to see your comment here. I remember feeling so thrilled that we knew Norman. Wonder where he is these days. I haven't seen the movie since we saw it in the school hall that day - but thought it was great then.
Rating: 3 / 5
by Donna McKellar on 27 Jul 2008

I remember the ending so vividly, what a powerful movie, thank you so much for the reminder.
Rating: 4 / 5
by Roz Veevers on 06 Oct 2007

Sounds like a great film that I look forward to seeing. Good article that is informative enough to inspire one to seek out the movie, but doesn't give away the details. Only criticism is that it's not exactly clear from the review if the 2004 version is a complete remake or simply a re-release (digitally enhanced perhaps?)of the '76 original??
Rating: 4 / 5
by Kevin Cruickshank on 02 Sep 2007

I'll love to watch the movie. Just reading the review gave me a lump in throat. Sonja
Rating: 4 / 5
by Sonja Venzke on 30 Aug 2007

This review has really prompted me to see this movie. "What was good and what was loving in South Africa". The best friends and neighbours we ever had were in S.Africa. This film may help to explain how it was to people who have not experienced Africa.
Rating: 4 / 5
by Avril Sellars on 28 Aug 2007

So good to know this movie has done so well as it sure does make one aware of the need for strong community involvement. Good on ya Darryll for your fame!
Rating: 4 / 5
by Cathy Robinson on 27 Aug 2007

Strangely enough, Norman Knox (Star of the movie) was in my class in Dunvegan primary school and I recall feeling rather famous just because we were friends...LOL...My 15 minutes of Semi-Fame
Rating: 4 / 5
by Darryll van der Westhuizen on 19 Aug 2007

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