The movie about the concert that was put-on in conjunction with Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” the fight in which he battled George Foreman in 1974 in Zaire (now Congo), is finally coming to theaters in NYC. I saw a screening of this magnificent documentary, “Soul Power,” last summer and it blew me away. The richness of the performances (by James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz, the Spinners, BB King, Bill Withers, among others) are just one aspect of this film: it also strives to speak to the indelible marks music, both American soul and African traditional, has had on our culture.
The best moments of the film also include Muhammad Ali waxing on race and politics, slavery and oppression, Africa and America. “Mr. Ali is there, vain, shrewd and witty as ever, cooling his heels and running his mouth, expounding on the legacies of colonialism and slavery and presenting himself, hyperbolically and in sly earnest, as a global ambassador of freedom and justice,” wrote A.O. Scott (my hero) today in The Times.
Here’s my story from last year. Filmmaker Jeffrey Levy-Hinte says he was inspired to finish the piece because of Barack Obama.
Soul Power is playing at Landmark Sunshine and Lincoln Center.