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What does it mean to be a man? - 'The Wound' film review

The Wound is a film about old traditions going head-to-head with the modern world. The modern world is embodied by the protagonist, the 'initiate', who doesn't accept everything that he's told, and often challenges those in charge.

Tradition is presented as a group of ageing men, who occasionally show up, inspecting, laughing among themselves, and poking questions; making sure things are run as they were when they were in charge. Sound familiar?

The Wound takes place in South Africa, but you do not need to be South African to relate to this story. This could just as easily be set in a school, a sports team, the army, or even prison. The modern world is embodied by the protagonist, the 'initiate', who challenges their behaviour and questions everything with an air of cynicism.

The Wound is also a film about masculinity. Everyone in this film is trying to prove themselves as a man. It's worth mentioning there are absolutely no female characters in this film. A risky move at this time, but with good reason as to accurately depict this culture.

So, what does it mean to be a man? Is it being strong and commanding? Is a man someone who has suffered and endured? Or is it someone who can stand up to those in power, even if that sometimes means remaining silent or even running away.

Protest in South Africa

The release of The Wound has spurred some controversy in South Africa for exposing this culture. I felt that the director was actually holding back, as to let the audience choose what is right or wrong, and if anything, this is a very fair and honest depiction. He even used locals for the cast that had been initiated in this way and contributed to the film with their real life experiences.

So what happens when old traditions are threatened by a free thinking individual? With a twist ending, the denouement sends a clear message: those who follow old traditions, do not want their hypocrisies and lies to be exposed.

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