When We Were Kings

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Time Out says

Leon Gast's time-capsule of a film transports us to Zaire in 1974 (when most of the material was shot), and the heavyweight encounter between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman - the famous 'rumble in the jungle'. Gast was on hand to record the three-day music festival which preceded the bout, but stayed when the fight was delayed after Foreman was cut in a training session. Press conferences, gym sessions, and all the cultural paradox which accompanied two African-American superstars stranded with the world's media in Kinshasa for six weeks. Apparently Taylor Hackford, who has a producer credit, came up with the idea of using commentaries from Norman Mailer, George Plimpton and Spike Lee to structure the material, and though Lee (who wasn't there) has little to say, Plimpton and Mailer (who were) make enthralling guides. Mailer, especially, acknowledges the ironies congruent on this gladiatorial showpiece for black pride being staged by the Mobutu dictatorship and the Don King machine, and produces a penetrating emotional analysis of the boxing which is nothing short of inspired.

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