The Forgotten Kingdom
Director: Andrew Mudge
Cast: Zenzo Ngqobe, Nozipho Nkelemba, Lebohang Ntsane, Jerry Mofokeng, Moshoeshoe Chabeli, Jerry Phele, Lillian Dube
Classification: 10 -12PG Running Time: 101 minutes
Rating: 5 stars
Often a film that tries to explore too many themes fails dismally. In the case of The Forgotten Kingdom the process works to the film’s advantage. Beautifully.
Set in the mountainous country of Lesotho, the film looks at themes from HIV/Aids to urbanisation and the loss of a man’s roots to acceptance.
It is a road movie on horseback. It is a love story with a slight reference to Romeo and Juliet.
It is a film that entices the audience to discover and fall in love with Lesotho and its Basotho people.
And when you leave the cinema, the serene, majestic mountains remain in the mind for a long time.
After 15 years Atang Mokoenya (Ngqobe) returns from Joburg to bury his father in the land of their birth, Lesotho.
There he meets Dineo (Nkelemba), his childhood friend. A beautiful and compassionate woman, Dineo takes care of her younger sister who is in the advanced stages of Aids.
Dineo’s father forbids the romance and takes the family to a faraway village.
Madly in love, Atang meets an 11-year-old boy (Ntsane) and, as the film develops, it becomes apparent that he is Atang’s alter-ego.
So begins the buddy-buddy road trip movie on horseback through the exquisite mountains in search of Dineo.
They obviously encounter many adventures on the way to Atang’s destiny.
HIV and Aids are also dealt with when Dineo’s father (Mofokeng) will not accept that her sister is dying of Aids. He stubbornly refuses to deal with his sick daughter, a young woman so ill she can barely walk.
The film is beautifully shot, the camera meticulously using every ray of light to enhance the mood and sheer godliness of the surroundings.
The director Andrew Mudge is American, but it is clear from this film that he’s in love with, and somewhat enchanted by, the mountain kingdom.
It is also apparent that he uses this film to discover the mysteries of that land.
Ngqobe gives a sterling performance. He captures the rebellious, confused young man who rediscovers his Basotho roots with insight and intelligence.
A great find is the young Ntsane. He is an absolute natural and his ruthless yet sensitive character often steals the show.
Another find is Nkelemba, who is not only beautiful, but whose aura naturally adds to the beauty of the surroundings.
It was as if she has lived there all her life.
Of course, Lillian Dube and Jerry Mofokeng give their usual sterling performances.
The Forgotten Kingdom is one of the most beautifully filmed pieces of work to have come out of southern Africa and is simply a must-see.
It is akin to taking a beautiful holiday in a far away kingdom in just 101 minutes.