Gangsters and crime feature strongly as themes of Johannesburg’s film and television. This paper traces the path of these themes, and discusses the images within the context of Johannesburg’s history.
Johannesburg has been the site of urban migration since the discovery of gold in 1886 and the city continues to be the object of many dreams and aspirations for South Africans and Africans alike. But the city also plays host to a shadowy underworld of crime and is referred to as ‘gangsters’ paradise’. This underworld has become a familiar feature in themes and genres of films and television shows set in the city of Johannesburg.
Representations of the city coincide with these themes of crime as the gritty images of Johannesburg form an important backdrop to the narratives. Johannesburg has captured the imaginations of filmmakers and audiences, and the city hosts a large proportion of both film production companies and a large share of the country’s cinema audience. Subsequently, images of the city are prolific in films and in television. However, crime as a theme is handled differently within the different mediums. This paper explores these images and themes from their origins in the 1940s to 21st century films such as ‘Jerusalema’ and places the discussion within the greater context of the history of Johannesburg and the history of films and television.
|Keywords:||Johannesburg, Film, Television, Crime, Genre, City Representation|
PhD Student, Development Planning and Modelling, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa