Cry Freedom (1987)




Director:     Richard Attenborough.

Starring:    Kevin Kline, Penelope Wilton, Denzel Washington, Kevin McNally, John Thaw, Timothy West, Juanita Waterman, John Hargreaves, Alec McCowen, Zakes Mokae, Ian Richardson.

British film.

Stephen Biko 1975-77, black leader of resistance to apartheid



This is the true story of the relationship between a naive white liberal newspaper editor (Donald Wood played by Kevin Klein) who actually knows very little about the black situation and the student activist leader Steven Biko (played by Denzel Washington). It is a study of the awakening of the white liberal to the harsh realities of life for blacks in South Africa.

Writing articles condemning Steven Biko, for black racism against whites because Biko talks about black pride and black consciousness influenced by the American Black Power movement, he is challenged to meet with Biko and discuss the realities of South Africa. The newspaper editor agrees, thinking he will have a chance to get a great story and also influence Biko.

However, the tables are turned, when Wood is in the township and really sees the poverty and misery. These experiences cause the liberal editor to take more favorable stances to the black movement, which brings him into conflict with the entire white power structure.

After having developed a relationship with Biko and having new sympathies for his struggle, the editor is shocked when Biko is imprisoned and then murdered by the prison guards. The editor now wants to get the story of Biko out to the larger public. He writes the manuscript but discovers that he is to be arrested.

The rest of the story is about the escape attempt of the editor and his family through the independent state of Lesotho.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.





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