Swaziland
Without the King
Review by Ross Anthony

Perhaps, this is a good example of the power documentary filmmakers have over the content they display. Their choices of what to edit in and what to edit out may make striking differences in the sway and impact of the arguments presented. Mostly, "Without a King" sets out to remind people and leaders that leaders are for the people and not visa versa. Though King Mswati III is presented as a nice enough guy, they never show him doing anything substantive, only rambling in generalities. Could it be that in 20 years he has actually done nothing helpful for his people? Are there no roads in Swaziland? No sewer systems anywhere? Does he do nothing else for his people besides marrying a score of them? And what of the middle class? Okay, it's probably very small, but then tell me its relative size and show me a doctor or a lawyer or even a construction worker and what their views are. Has the country none? This documentary would have you assume not.

I'm not siding with the King here – I agree with the activists on many of their points. Why can't the government create an irrigation program to help people better farm? But we don't hear the King's side on that either. Why can't the people do it themselves? What are the issues?

That said, this is still a very engrossing piece of film. The players are passionate and charismatic and filmmakers indulge them with long cuts of screen time. Probably the most fascinating is the crew following the eldest child of the King, Princess Sikhanyiso. Her "character" even seems to have an arc - from near "Paris Hilton" oblivious rich heir-head to potential catalyst for change.

Overall, despite its lack of fair balance, the piece is absolutely compelling and makes a point that is far more universal than any one country. Gradewise: between a B+ and A- … I'll round up.

-- Book Contest --


  • Without the King. Copyright © 2008.
  • Directed by Michael Skolnik.
  • Produced by Paolo Mendoza and Michael Skolnik at Red Envelope/Soze

Grade..........................A- (3/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Sunday, 30-Mar-2008 10:46:43 PDT