Visually Striking Propaganda

Another Day of Life has interesting subject matter you don’t see every day in the movies. The engaging docudrama adapts the book by Polish war journalist Ryszard “Ricardo” Kapuściński on his experiences in Angola.

A daring look behind the scenes into the bloody civil war that tore Angola apart in the 1970s, the visually bold movie blends new documentary footage of Kapuściński’s “sources” with animated flashbacks detailing his journey deep into the country’s war-torn past. It’s an intriguing blend that works better than expected, highlighting exactly what Another Day of Life aims for in telling this tragic story.

An official Cannes selection, Another Day of Life is emotionally manipulative and firmly anti-American. A European production through and through, filmmakers Raúl De La Fuente & Damian Nenow craft an engaging piece of pure propaganda that will tug at your heartstrings. As long as one recognizes the project’s fiercely Communist perspective, Another Day of Life delivers fantastic visuals about a depressing episode in Angola’s past.

… the mix of documentary testimony and animation is captivating; this is next-level propaganda aimed at impressionable audiences

The one-sided tale sees Kapuściński travel the country of Angola in 1975 as a journalist desperate to interview the rebel leader Farrusco. After Portugal had abandoned Angola during the Cold War, two factions fought a violent civil war for control. The Soviet-backed MPLA versus the CIA-backed FNLA.

Symbolic of the Cold War, the African country became a proxy battle between the Americans and Soviet Russia. Things quickly became a bloodbath in Angola with the better-funded FNLA fighting the more popular MPLA. Children are made into soldiers as the violence escalates.

Kapuściński’s friends all happen to be working for the MPLA and his journey paints an incredibly sympathetic portrait of their mission. War is hell, but the movie portrays revolutionary figures in the MPLA almost as lionized icons consciously designed for fame. Comparisons are made with revolutionary icon Che Guevara.

The mix of documentary testimony and animation is captivating; this is next-level propaganda aimed at impressionable audiences. While Another Day of Life details a grim picture of war, the movie clearly manipulates its audience’s feelings and heavily shades the truth about the conflict. Some will see this as an actual documentary, which is when the movie becomes dangerous.

Video

A blend of brilliantly staged motion capture animation and live-action documentary clips, Another Day of Life is a visual feast that works beyond the normal dimensions we recognize as picture quality. True craftsmanship and extraordinary filmmaking, developed over a decade in the making, create a memorable 2.39:1 presentation.

This is a docudrama that sings on BD with its boldly colored animation. Despite fairly stiff movement and limited shading, the foreign animation creates a vividly imagined portrait of Angola in 1975.

The 85-minute main feature runs in satisfactory AVC on a BD-50. A few issues crop up in the slick visuals, from odd chroma noise to occasional aliasing. It’s not a completely flawless animated wonder in those terms. Otherwise this is outstanding video quality that pops on Blu-ray.

Audio

Active sound design creates a big impact in the movie’s fine 5.1 DTS-HD MA track. Surprisingly in English with the exception of a few scenes with provided subtitles, it’s a polished surround mix with significant LFE and discrete surround activity. Bullets and explosions ring with authenticity across the soundstage, immersing listeners in battlefield conditions.

Nicely crafted with a real eye towards pinpoint imaging and separation, this is superior sound quality. There’s a consistency between the dialogue heard in the animated portions and the pseudo-documentary interviews.

Optional English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles play in a white font, always inside the 2.39:1 scope presentation.

Extras

GKIDS and Shout Factory bring Another Day of Life out in a combo Blu-ray and DVD package. Initial pressings include a glossy slipcover. The Blu-ray is coded for Region A.

Creating The Animated Characters (03:38 in HD) – A featurette based on visuals, it plays the development of each character in chronological order from initial designs to the finished product. Starting with digital photographs, how each character’s design evolves is highlighted.

Making Of Another Day of Life (13:23 in HD) – The movie’s lengthy development process is spotlighted, taking nearly a decade to properly adapt the book. The filmmakers discuss traveling to Angola, interviewing people still living like rebel leader Farrusco. The difference between their motion capture animation and rotoscoping is brought up.

Trailers (02:41 in HD) – A trailer and a teaser for the movie play together.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Another Day in the Life
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Well-crafted blend of motion capture animation and documentary testimony works as manipulative and dishonest piece of propaganda about the devastating civil war in Angola.

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