During last Wednesday’s class (April 3rd), we had the pleasure of watching the film Yesterday. This movie was about a South African woman, who contracted HIV/AIDS from her husband, who was working in Johannesburg. This film accurately portrayed how different life is there, and how extremely opposite it is in South Africa than it is in America.
In Yesterday’s community, it is extremely rare to see a man. Most of the husbands are working in the cities, and come home once a month or once every few months to give their families money. This means that in the village, the women have to do all of the work, including carrying very large pails of water, and doing all of the gardening and roadwork. This is an extreme culture change than what we are used to. I feel that in our society, we view women as less strong, and not as apt to do such chores. Seeing a woman doing construction work in America isn’t completely out of question, but it is still rare. However in Yesterday, there was a group of women shown a few times who were rebuilding the roads and the bridges.
When Yesterday found out she had HIV/AIDS, she needed to immediately tell her husband. This led to him beating her furiously. I feel that this part was extremely sad, but also important to show the roles of society in South Africa. Yesterday’s husband didn’t want to believe it, and so he was mad and took it out on Yesterday. Meanwhile, the man at the front desk of the mines, where the husband worked, paid no attention to what was happening. This man also was very rude when Yesterday came up and started talking in Zulu. He answered in English, then rolled his eyes when she didn’t understand. I think this shows that in addition to the racial differences in South Africa, there is also a problem with how people in the cities view the women.
As a film major, I thought that this film was very appealing. The use of extreme close ups, and rack focusing helped to convey her emotions. When Yesterday found out she had HIV/AIDS, the scene started with an extreme close up of her face, and it was out of focus. This slowly came into focus, showing her puzzled and saddened facial expression. We could tell that something was wrong, even before the doctor told her the condition.
I also felt it was extremely effective to have this movie completely in Zulu, the native language. Although reading subtitles can be annoying, I think that the script was short enough where we could still watch the movie, and read what was going on at the same time.
In my film class right now, we are learning how to show, and not tell people what is going on in a film. I think that Yesterday is a perfect example of this, and that even if the subtitles were not there, the point still would have gotten across and had almost the same effect.