USA, South Africa | 106 MINUTES | English |
CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY
If South Africa were not so beautiful, the novelist Alan Paton once observed, "we would have had a revolution 50 years ago." All that beauty is captured by Paul Gilpin's camera in director Darrell James Roodt's powerful adaptation of Paton's classic novel. Cry, the Beloved Country is many things: a tense courtroom drama, a profound character study about a black pastor (James Earl Jones) and a white landowner (Richard Harris) who become tragically linked by a senseless murder, and a parable about the injustices of the apartheid system. But first and foremost the film is a paean to the one thing that united black and white South Africans, and dissuaded them from destroying each other: the love of the land they shared. Set in the 1940s, this story of redemption and reconciliation begins when the pastor journeys from his rural home into the den of iniquity that is Johannesburg in search of his wayward sister and estranged son. Once there he learns the brutal truth--his son stands accused in the killing of a white man. While the murder investigation provides the dramatic impetus, the film's real energy comes from transcendent performances by Jones--at his most dignified, basso profundo best--and Harris, playing an Afrikaner struggling to overcome his racism in one of his finest late performances. True to its source material, Cry, the Beloved Country is that rarest of achievements: a film about faith-both religious and personal-and love of country that is neither mawkish nor preachy, always compelling and ultimately inspiring.