Paljas (1998)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - South Africa  |  
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The title of this South African submission for the foreign language Oscar translates as "magic," or the ability to set things right. The story takes place outside rural Toorwater, where railroad-depot manager Hendrik MacDonald (Marius Weyers) lives some distance from the town with his unhappy family -- wife Katrina (Aletta Bezuidenhout), who finds her Hendrik inattentive; their son Willem (Larry Leyden), shocked into silence two years earlier; and sensitive teen daughter Emma (Liezel van der Merwe). Then one morning they awaken to find wild animals in an abandoned circus train which has been shunted off to the wrong station. Trainers and performers soon arrive, and the circus brings paljas to the remote railroad family. After the circus troupers leave, clown-mime Manuel (Ellis Pearson) stays on, moving into a nearby shack, befriending Willem and teaching him magic and clown arts. Although these events have a positive effect on the family, the local townspeople are threatened by the changes they see. Filmed simultaneously in an English version.