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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Come Back, Africa - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Volume 2 [Blu-ray]


(Lionel Rogosin, 1959)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: Milestone



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Come Back, Africa Runtime: 1:24:58.041

Disc One Size: 47,303,138,186 bytes

Disc Two Size: 24,577,197,550 bytes

Come Back, Africa Feature Size: 23,890,677,504 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.98 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 25th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), none



Disc one
Come Back, Africa South Africa. 1959 Mono sound. Aspect ratio 4:3. Restoration Cineteca del Comune di Bologna. From the 2K Restoration. SDH subtitles (1:24:51)
A Martin Scorsese Introduction (2:16)
An American in Sophiatown The Making of Come Back, Africa. Directed by Michael Rogosin & Lloyd Ross (51:54)
Lionel Rogosin talks about Come Back, Africa. Radio Interview, 1978, (19:45)
Come Back, Africa Theatrical Trailer (2:21)

Disc two
Black Roots United States. 1970, Mono Sound. Aspect ratio: 4:3. SDH subtitles (1:02:35)
Bitter Sweet Stories Directed by Michael Rogosin. Color/B&W. Documentary on the making of Black Roots (28:24)
Have You Seen Drum Recently? Directed by Jürgen Schadeberg. 1989, (1:14:19)



Blu-ray 1



Blu-ray 2



Description: Lionel Rogosin's religion could be dubbed liberation cinematography he made films as a way to fight injustice. In 1957, Rogosin followed his calling to South Africa creating Come Back, Africa - a powerful and moving drama exposing the harsh reality of life under the system apartheid. Shooting secretly under the very noses of the feared South African police, Rogosin, his crew and his cast (including journalists/activists Lewis Nkosi, Bloke Modisane, and Can Themba) risked arrest and deportation. Miriam Makeba, whose electrifying appearance in Come Back, Africa launched a legendary career, found herself banned from her country after she traveled to Venice for the movie's premiere. The scenes shot in the vibrant black ghetto of Sophiatown are precious images of a lost world. Nkosi later said of the film, It is a monument. We were able to show the world what South Africa really was like.



The Film:

Rogosin's docudrama was an early exposÚ of the evils of apartheid, filmed clandestinely and using a non-professional cast who portray a typical township family, separated by law and drifting through a series of menial jobs until a single infringement (i.e. man and wife share a night together) leads to a singularly bleak denouement. Although the film has considerable weaknesses - principally on the narrative level of performance, and the need to spell everything out in the manner of a social science course (this last, an entirely understandable decision for 1959) - its power comes from the location filming of the township, which might have been shot today. This township - Sophiatown - was once the only place in South Africa where blacks could own freehold properties. The area was demolished and became a white suburb called Triumph.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Early activist filmmaker Lionel Rogosin was able to film this powerful 1960 apartheid drama on location in South Africa by telling the authorities he was making a musical. Using many nonprofessional actors, the film focuses on the story of a black man named Zacariah who looks unsuccessfully for a steady job in Johannesburg.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Following their excellent On the Bowery - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Vol. 1 Milestone have put out Come Back, Africa - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Volume 2 also on Blu-ray.  The films included in the package are in their original 1.33:1 and appear relatively clean with some minor blemishes. Come Back, Africa has been restored by the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna. The resulting dual-layered transfer (high bitrate) is from that 2K restoration. There are some inconsistencies with the contrast but detail can have some impressive moments exporting depth. I expect that his Blu-ray is as good a 1080P presentation are we are likely to ever get. I was pleased with the appearance, less disturbed by the inherent weaknesses.















Black Roots



Bitter Sweet Stories



Have You Seen Drum Recently?




Audio :

The audio seems consistently transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps and sounds clear if fairly unremarkable. In Come Back, Africa the Indian tabla player, Chatur Lal composed the score - a less demonstrative effort infrequently intruding on the veritÚ style of the film. I, again, presume this to be the best possible rendering - I had no issues with discerning the levels and there are optional English subtitles. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

The first Blu-ray disc offers supplements including a brief Martin Scorsese Introduction, the 51-minute Making of Come Back, Africa directed by Michael Rogosin & Lloyd Ross, as well as 20-minutes of Lionel Rogosin talking about Come Back, Africa in a radio interview from 1978. There is also a trailer for the feature. The second Blu-ray has the 1970, Lionel Rogosin documentary, film Black Roots - in HD mono sound and original 4:3 frame and optional English subtitles. It runs just over an hour. From TCM "The premise of Black Roots was simple: gather black activists and musicians and listen to them talk about their experiences intercut with the songs that grew out of their personal trials and dreams. The camera first focuses on Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, referred to as "Kirk" by the group. Kirk tells horrifying tales of his family working all year on cotton crops only to have the buyer at market use deceit and intimidation to give them next to nothing for it." There is also Bitter Sweet Stories directed by Michael Rogosin. It is a 1/2 hour color documentary on the making of Black Roots . Lastly we get Have You Seen Drum Recently? directed by Juurgen Schadeberg in 1989 running 1 1/4 hours. It is a film that utilizes photographs from the Drum (a South African family magazine) archives to tell the story of the magazine and documents its contribution to the cultural and political life of South Africa.


Blu-ray 1



Blu-ray 2



I really liked On the Bowery - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Vol. 1 from Milestone and this as well, although not quit as much. It is certainly very eye-opening and, on a technical level, fascinating filmmaking. The, 2-disc, Blu-ray package offers so much. Certainly recommended to those interested! 

Gary Tooze

February 11th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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