A Dry White Season (1989)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
Schoolteacher Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland) has been insulated all his life from the horrors of apartheid in his native South Africa. Perhaps he really didn't want to know. When the son of his black gardener is arrested and beaten as a result of a schoolboy protest in Soweto, at first he imagines the police must have had their reasons. However, the boy is picked up again, and this time he doesn't come back. Ben promises his servant that he will look into the incident, and discovers that the boy was killed simply to gratify the violent urges of Captain Stolz (Jurgen Prochnow), a "special branch" policeman. At long last he has gotten a glimpse into the truly arbitrary and violent nature of the system he has so long benefitted from, and he hires Ian Mackenzie (Marlon Brando) to prosecute the killer. It is a foregone conclusion that Stolz will not be punished, but Mackenzie rises to new heights of withering sarcasm and irony in the courtroom. This situation turns Ben into a radical firebrand, which alienates him from his white friends and neighbors, as well as members of his family. … More
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as Ben du Toit
as Ian McKenzie
as Gordon Ngubene
as Stanley Makhaya
as Melanie Bruwer
as Susan du Toit
as Capt. Stolz
as Emily Ngubene
as Suzette du Toit
as Mr. Bruwer
as Johan du Toit
as Col. Viljoen
as Susan's Mother
as Susan's Father
as Dr. Herzog
as Archibald Mabaso
as Sgt. Van Zyl
as Lt. Venter
as Johnson Seroke
as Dr. Hassiem
as Mrs. Beachley
as Aubrey Kunene
as Police Commandant
as Soweto Girl
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Critic Reviews for A Dry White Season
This film is unblinking in its depiction of the most violent side of apartheid.
This is filmmaking meant to engage the heart -- and other visceral organs -- more than the mind; its effects are simple, broad and directly put.
The relentless plot is effectively set up and expertly pursued, and Hugh Masekela makes some striking contributions to Dave Grusin's musical score.
It's filled with obvious, earnest performances--Marlon Brando's ironic and subtle one is the only exception--and unresonant writing.
Audience Reviews for A Dry White Season
It's too bad that such a well-intentioned movie is so mediocre. Cliche-riddled, convoluted writing and often haphazard choices made by director Euzhan Palcy are too blatant too be ignored. Donald Sutherland is a convincing but uncompelling lead, and Susan Sarandon's vocal work is laughable. In a shamefully small amount of screen time, Marlon Brando leaves a stronger impression than anyone else in the movie.
Very good! Important movie released before the apartheid was over in South Africa that shows us a little bit of the atrocities caused by such a cruel regime. Good movie that is unknown to most people.
Donald Sutherland plays a naive schoolteacher who apparently didn't notice the problems of Apartheid in South Africa. Overall kinda weak, but the acting is brilliant, especially from Marlon Brando and Jurgen Prochnow.
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