The New Crown Hope Film Series, commemorating the birth of Mozart and being held at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, consists of seven films commissioned from directors from around the world. Six of the fine films are feature length and are rated as darned good to brilliant. The seventh film, a 19 minute short, seems an odd choice for the series – that is, unless you like westerns, kung fu flicks, samurai adventures, love stories and supernatural fantasies. If you do, then you need to check out “Moekgo and the Stickfighter.”
A solitary and mysterious figure living, alone, in the mountains, Kgotso has a fabled past. Some say he was cursed by his mother as she died bearing the child. Others say he was raised by a wise old soothsayer who, on her deathbed, bequeathed the eight-year old boy a magic concertina.
The countryside is being pillaged of sheep by thieves led by an evil horseman named Mokgodutswane and Kgotso is hired to guard and protect the remaining animals. As he plays his concertina while watching the flock, he sees a beautiful woman. She disappears only to return the next day, drawn by Kgotso’s hauntingly beautiful music. As they gaze at each other, Mokgodutswane sneaks up from behind and stabs the startled stickfighter, leaving him for dead and taking the girl, Moekgo.
Kgotso is taken in by the villagers and nursed back to health. As he recovers from his wounds, he sees the beautiful woman but is told that she is a lifeless shell, her spirit held captive by Mokgodutswane in the mountains. Armed with his magical squeezebox, the stickfighter heads into the hills to confront the sinister horseman and free Moekgo’s spirit. This is a story of love, honor, loyalty and sacrifice that packs a lot into its short run time.
Lesotho, Africa-based writer/director Teboho Mahlatsi makes his short film debut with an assured and good-looking work that crosses spaghetti western with samurai fable. Instead of guns blazing in shootouts, it is the clack of sticks and swords as Kgotso fights the evil interloper and rides off into the sun with the beautiful lady. It is a beautiful looking work that uses landscape, costume and fighting action to tell its tale. Let us see what Mahlatsi does with his first feature. It should be interesting, at least. I give it a B-.Laura:
Laura also gives "Meokgo and the Stickfighter" a B-.
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