Paljas (1997) AKA The Clown


This excellent Afrikaans language drama follows the deterioration of an Afrikaner family isolated and shunned in the small community of Toorwater. Nothing seems to happen. Then a circus train loses its way and comes to rest in Toorwater, and a mysterious clown brings fresh magic to the stagnating family, but he also poses a threat to the rest of the community. Katinka Heyns brilliantly succeeds in creating a metaphor for the Afrikaner family’s turbulent emotional, cultural and ideological journey from the darkness of apartheid back into the light of post-apartheid reconciliation (familial, cultural and political))

Director: Katinka Heyns. AKA The Clown
Writer: Chris Barnard.
Stars: Marius Weyers, Aletta Bezuidenhout, Ian Roberts, Jan Ellis, Ellis Pearson, Liezel van der Merwe, Larry Leyden, Marthinus Basson, Regardt van den Bergh, Ernst Eloff, Paul Eilers, André Rossouw, Marko van der Colff, Hennie Oosthuizen, Chris Vorster, Gys de Villiers, Mark Hoeben, David S. Lee, Rory Avenstrüp.
Cinematographer: Koos Roets.
Composer: Sue Grealy.


Many thanks to Edebiyat Kitap for making available this HD copy of this rare South African film.

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One Comment

  1. Kristoff Botski
    January 17, 2024

    An accessible and sweet film about finding magic and meaning in a socially hostile and conservative environment (where the meaning of the title comes from). The actors playing the McDonald family are excellent and it’s satisfying to see the growth they go through with the unexpected addition of a new member in their family. There’s a touch of magical realism at play here, which makes it all the more engaging when set in a rural, South African context.

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