The Forgotten Kingdom
Feature-film debut of director Andrew Mudge, The Forgotten Kingdom, is a vividly illustrated coming-of-age tale that takes plot points consistent with an Odyssean venture and manifests them in fresh, unexpected forms. The first film ever produced in Lesotho, a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa, it is also the first film spoken entirely in the beautiful Sesotho tongue.
Atang Mokoenya (Zenzo Ngqobe) is obligated to make a pilgrimage to his native country of Lesotho in order to bury his estranged father. Leaving his city life behind in Johannesburg, he is confronted by his past and the land he has long forgotten, unknowingly seeking to mediate what he thinks he knows and what he has chosen to ignore. Mudge skilfully captures Atang’s journey as a man distanced from his father, his homeland and even himself on a pursuit of exploration within and without.
The film boasts cinematography of a narrative landscape with sweeping shots of the rugged, mountainous terrain indigenous to Lesotho that captivatingly frames Atang’s road to self-discovery. Apart from native superstitions, elements of mysticism are faintly employed, from a reoccurring spectre, presumed to be Atang’s father, to the archetypal figure of the old man recast as an orphan boy (Lebohang Ntsane) wise beyond his scant years. After an incident that drives the travelling companions apart, the boy perceptively asks Atang: “You see how unforgiving this universe is when you don’t listen to it?” The question resonates deeply with anyone who has ever wondered about his relationship of unity with the divine.
In addition to Atang’s personal story arc, The Forgotten Kingdom is also an expressive portrait of an often overlooked land and its culture. The audience’s encounters with these small communities are presented with a gleam of nostalgia, as if the viewer were revisiting these scenes with Atang rather than discovering them for the first time.
Poised with a colourful score by Robert Miller that echoes the striking scenery, The Forgotten Kingdom is an elegantly orchestrated work of cinema that gives prominence to family and heritage as significant markers of identity.
The Forgotten Kingdom is released nationwide on 21st August 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Forgotten Kingdom here: