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The Power of One

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The power of one which is directed by John G. Avildsen, achieves a purpose and perspective by attaching social messages through the use of cinematic techniques, setting and most importantly characters. Avildsen flaunts his director skills through technique, however loses the ability to engage the target audience to believe beyond the South African reality in the 1930’s through cliché perspectives of racism and prejudice.
The power of one is a story about a young English boy by the name of P.K born to a widow mother in rural South Africa. Initially living a simple life, P.K. learns the ways of England from his mother, though also is fortunate enough in learning ways of Africa from his Zulu nanny. However everything turns upside down when cattle are struck, that leads P.Ks mother to experience a dramatic nervous breakdown. Mean while P.K is sent to an Afrikaaner boarding school where he is targeted, harassed and bullied. P.K being the only English boy, is blamed for the deaths of the thousands of Afrikaaners during the second Anglo Boer war and is punished for nothing but prejudice. P.K stands up for himself after he becomes a confident boxer who believes in justice and equality amongst all racial and political groups.
Throughout the movie, notions of social prejudice is constantly exposed. This is mainly evident when PK is sent to the Africana boarding school and he is victimised by the students there. Being the only English boy, he stood as an outsider compared to young boys who were already attending this school whose idol was in those years, Hitler. Due to his social status and race PK is marginalised by verbal abuse, physical abuse like pissing on him and staging secret meetings. This form of prejudice led Young PK to horrific habits like bedwetting. These scenes show the audience the lasting dislike between the two white tribe who existed in South Africa in those years, the Afrikaners and the British. PK as an English boy is treated as if he is like the African people of South Africa and he is victimised in a sense which they would have been.
John G. Avildsen makes the audience aware of the struggle faced by all groups in the 19th century in South Africa against the apartheid. The director illustrates that racism is not only driven by hatred, moreover comprises ignorance as well. The director does this through the use of relationships between PK and other influential characters like Doc, a German pianist also the friend of PKs grandfather, and geel Piet. Doc teaches PK rationality, justice and sensitivity. Geel Piet on the other hand teaches PK to fight with his heart as well as his head. The influence of characters in the movie position the audience to empathise with the African population.
Avildsen uses contrast in setting to position the audience to believe a certain perspective. For example the setting which the Afrikaans students are shown in is dark, with military uniforms and a German accent portray them as evil heartless beings which ultimately reflects the setting that they are shown in. On the contrary when black men, women and children are shown in their home setting, at night they town is under a night sky covered in shining stars similarly when they move about in through their homes that looks like trash, they are guided by vague light that shine from the streets. Avildsen positions the viewer to both empathise and sympathise for the blacks as they contrast symbols of evil and racial prejudice in an Afrikaan setting compared to that of the blacks with lights shining from every corner of the town ultimately sets the viewer to believe there is still hope for the blacks.
Through the use of cinematic technique Avildsen adds more effect to his overall purpose of the film. Effects such as sound, change or colour and camera angle are a few of many techniques which are used in The Power of One. For instance the effect of sound is shown when the apartheid arrive looking for PK. The sound as well as colour dramatically changes from the harmony of the blacks with the daunting chaotic dark violence shown by the Afrikaners. Moreover the use of alternative camera angle, is a technique used to align superiority amongst the people. For example when Yappie botha arrive at the boxing gym the camera is shown from a slightly lower angle to show his power whereas when it shows Geel Piet who defends PK, the camera angle is from above as if he is being looked down upon. The use of small cinematic techniques have the power to change the perspective of the viewerto believe what the initial purpose of the film was rather than their own beliefs.
The Power of one is an emotional and influential film which employs a vast amount of film techniques to portray perspective. The literal message which John G. Avildsen sends through the film is that one person can make a change. The power of one holds a cliché storyline where ultimately the white English boy who is victimised in the beginning, sympathises for the black race and does he best to defend those who he sees are in the same shoes as he was. The film captivates the audience through the construction of characters, which challenges the viewer’s feelings and ultimately position the viewer to sympathise for either the Afrikaners or PK and the blacks.

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