n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Dirty cuts : violence, trauma and narrative in a post-apartheid South African film

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



This paper considers narrative disruption in Teboho Mahlatsi's 1999 film, , particularly as it relates to memory, trauma and violence. The disruption that marks this eleven-minute film indicates a violent and impoverished past intruding into the present, in terms of both the broader political context of apartheid South Africa and the more recent social instability caused by crime. The film communicates an underlying trauma through the disruption; the narrative intrusions can be read as symptomatic, but they are weighted down with memory. Post-apartheid South African film has been haunted by the past, particularly through the compulsion to rehearse reconciliation, even if not explicitly political, through film narratives. While the trend in recent South African fiction film has been towards seamlessness in editing and the contained structure of the three act narrative, Mahlatsi's film begins to address concerns which mainstream narratives find difficult to articulate. The underlying violence of the film is communicated textually, through its almost aggressive editing. Discontinuous editing becomes a way of representing interior experience. Narrative disruption creates a disturbed text and this is symptomatic of subterranean social trauma caused by a troubled past and violent present.

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