“I remember seeing e’Lollipop as a nine-year-old, hanging the poster on my wall and dreaming of also going to the USA one day,” says South African expat Sam Vogel, who now lives in Texas.
Like so many South Africans in the mid-70s, when the film was released, Sam says “I was so taken by this wonderful, heartwarming movie about the friendship between two boys and love transcending hate during a time of segregation in South Africa.
“I just watched it again on YouTube and was brought to tears once again. Highly recommended, particularly at this time.”
Ashley Lazarus, who wrote and directed the film is one of those special filmmakers who has posted the full-length movie (director’s cut) on YouTube for others to watch for free. (See below.)
The film, which was produced by Andre Pieterse and titled ‘Forever Young, Forever Free’ in the US, is an extraordinarly moving portrayal of the friendship between a black South African boy (played by Muntu Ndebele) and his white orphan friend (played by Norman Knox) at the height of Apartheid in SA.
The film came about after Pieterse approached Lazarus about a traditional legend featuring a little white boy being raised in an African mission station. Lazarus recalls in a comment on YouTube that: “We worked together to expand the story… and then I wrote the final screenplay.”
He says a lot of the relationship between the two children mirrored their own friendships with black kids when they were growing up.
Lazarus says: “Both Andre and I knew that under the tensions of apartheid, most South Africans did not hate… rather there was a remarkable warmth… especially in personal relationships between the everyday diverse people of South Africa.”
Amazingly, he adds that despite concern that the Apartheid-era censor board would reject this story of friendship and love, surprisingly “something remarkable happened (at the screening)… the full board rose to their feet and broke into spontaneous applause.”
It took nine months to cast the lead children in the film… and it was worth it. The actors they found rose to the occasion and “together they helped the film rise above the conflicts of its time… and portray what we all knew in our hearts was the other side of the story in South Africa.”
WATCH e’Lollipop Full Movie
What happened to the actors after e’Lollipop?
A few years ago a sequel was filmed – A Million Colours: e’Lollipop II (You can watch on Showmax) – depicting the lives of the child actors Ndebele and Knox during the years following the success of their iconic SA box office hit. Ndebele’s life had gone downhill and he’d become a drug addict, but thanks to Pieterse tracking the stars down when he wanted to turn e’Lollipop into a DVD, they were reunited and Ndebele said it inspired him to kick the drug habit at last.
Ndebele said: “Now that I’ve reconnected with Norman that lost part of me is returning. It was never a ‘made’ friendship, it was a natural bond which transcended racial boundaries. God has used him to save me just as I in e’Lollipop saved him.”
Lazarus says he is currently preparing to direct another feature film set in KwaZulu-Natal, and again about personal relationships. It’s provisionally titled ‘Teacher Wanted’.
If you want to watch more South African movies…
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