Soul Power (2008)

2 Jun

The “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Zaire between heavy weights Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in october 1974 is one of the most famous fights to ever take place. It’s not as well-known that before that match a music festival, Zaire 74, was organised which lasted several days.James Brown, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, The Spinners, Bill Withers and Manu Dibango were some of the artists that performed.
This documentary shows the preparations for the big concert and some of the artists doing their thing on stage.

The movie was made, just like When We Were Kings, by using archived footage . Because the material is already more than 30 years old, not everyone will recognise the various artists. A decision has been made not to show the names of the artists, which had me guessing sometimes who I was watching. I could recognise James Brown, B.B. King and Celia Cruz, but I did not know any of the other ones. The documentary just shows the images and does not add any additional information. A voiceover or some text could have cleared a lot of things up and I think the decision not to add this was a bad one.

Once the performances start it does not matter anymore, as they are exciting to watch. My personal favorite is James Brown, who really was amazingly impressive. The way he moves and sings will make sure you get goosebumps.
Sometimes some footage of Muhammad Ali is shown, who even sparred against one of the artists. Those were the things I did enjoy watching mostly. Ali is one of the greatest boxers ever and also was a fast talker, not hiding his opinions.

If you choose to watch this, you’ll mainly will do so for the performances. Don’t expect a lot of background or explanation of issues that might have been present in organising it. It’s a missed opportunity.

Score: 6

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