Cry, The Beloved Country (1995)
Director: Darrell Roodt.
Starring: James Earl Jones (Rev Stephen Kumalo), Tsholofelo Wechoemang (Child), Richard Harris (James Jarvis), Charles S. Dutton (John Kumalo), Dolly Rathebe (Mrs. Kumalo), Ramalao Makhene, Jack Robinson (Ian Jarvis), Jennifer Steyn (Mary Jarvis), Patrick Ndlovu (Man 1), Darlington Michaels (Man 2), King Twala (Man 3), Somizi Mhlongo (Young Thief), Sam Ngakane (Mafolo), Vusi Kunene (Theophilus Msimangu), John Whiteley (Father Vincent).
The movie is set in South Africa in 1946, Natal. This is the story of two fathers, one black, one white, who receive fundamental shocks to their basic beliefs and sense of comfort. The black "fundisi" or preachers, played by James Earl Jones, is a comfortable but poor minister in a beautiful setting with wide open spaces. He does not have much contact with his white neighbors, such as the white farmer (played by Richard Harris), travels to Johannesburg when he hears about trouble in his family. The preacher is shook to the base of his feet with what he finds out what has happened to his family in the big city.
His sister has become a prostitute and does not have custody of her child. His brother is not very friendly to or supportive of him. He also finds that his son has been in a reform school and has had a child with a woman to whom he has not married. And even worse, the minister finds that his son has killed the son of his white neighbor, the wealthy farmer, during a botched burglary.
The wealthy farmer also travels to Johannesburg to find out who killed his son. During his visit, he discovers that his son was deeply involved in supporting the black cause in South Africa in general and in philanthropic work with blacks in particular, running a boy's athletic club for blacks. He is deeply moved when he discovers that his son had rejected much of his family's teaching, even saying that his parents had taught him nothing about the real realities of South Africa.
Expecting an explosion when the two fathers meet, the men instead have been transformed spiritually by what they have seen and learned in Johannesburg.
The movie is a very moving experience. It deals with spiritual awakening in the midst of the terrible events and realities of life in apartheid South Africa.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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