Documentary of “Zaire ‘74”
Release Date: July 10, 2009
Starring: (as themselves) James Brown,
B.B. King, Bill Withers,
Muhammad Ali, and Don King
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 92 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
Executive Producer: N/A
Producer: Leon Gast and David Sonenberg
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
Much of the movie is behind the scenes footage of James Brown, B.B. King, and other famous performers on the plane, at the hotel and backstage, as well as the promoters and crew building the huge stage for the show. Muhammad Ali is part of the concert events when the fight is postponed six weeks because of an injury to Foreman. The movie’s last half are the onstage performances, which are tremendous. Fans of soul music will not want to miss these.
SOUL POWER is a time capsule of 1974 with its outlandish dress and mannerisms. The production values are solid. The movie is made up completely of the onscreen persons speaking their own words.
The movie is relatively clean, especially given the subject matter. There is much on camera discussion of “black power” and how this concert consists of African Americans returning to the mother “home country.”
Ali takes many on camera moments to say that America is always putting black people down and that America is more violent that Zaire. Of course, in the past six years, Zaire, now called the “Democratic Republic” of the Congo, has suffered a brutal civil war that reportedly has claimed the lives of 5.4 million people, so the ignorant Muslim boxer from Louisville, Kentucky has had to eat his words! America doesn’t look so bad now, does it, Mr. Clay aka Ali? Though Ali won the fight, his opponent, George Foreman, has fared much better since then compared to Ali, who is only a shadow of his former self.
Jesse Jackson’s now famous “I Am Somebody” speech rolls over the end credits. At the very end, the late James Brown appears, telling viewers that they “are somebody.”
It is great to see legends such as B.B. King and James Brown onstage and in their prime. The movie is not overly engaging, but the onstage dances and performances are clearly a highlight.
Please read the content section since there is some obscene language, some on-stage dancing is suggestive and man creates a phallic symbol as a joke.
SOUL POWER is devoid of most offensive material, but contains some obscene language, some suggestive dancing and a phallic symbol as a joke. There is discussion of “black power,” and how the concert is a chance for African Americans to return to the “home country.” Ali takes repeatedly says that America puts black people down and that America is more violent than Zaire. Viewers will enjoy seeing legends such as B.B. King and the late James Brown onstage and in their prime. The movie is not overly engaging, but the onstage dances and performances clearly are a highlight.