Cry, the Beloved Country - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cry, the Beloved Country Reviews

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½ March 29, 2009
Powerful and thought provoking. See it.
February 3, 2009
A powerful and emotional story of loss, redemption and reconciliation. Written with the voice of a poet, wonderfully acted, and beautifully filmed. This was one of those "I was up late at night and it came on" discoveries for me. I couldn't leave my seat. Highly recommended!
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2009
I was impressed that the murdered man's father could forgive and change his way of thinking.
October 8, 2008
This was so beautiful & so moving even if a little idealistic, far cry from the current social realism. Great performances from the leads & everyone of the unknowns. I read the book 30 yrs ago but the scenery & other locations made this more poignant.
Nelson Mandela approved, he's in the extras.
½ July 8, 2008
Maybe I'm just insensitive, but I didn't find this nearly as powerful as everybody said.

For one thing, I thought that the writing was way too stylized. I like "written" dialogue more than realistic speech (why should movies be limited to recreating the real world?), but this movie just felt pretentious. Everybody seems to know that they're in An Important Movie About A Serious Topic (in this case, racism in South Africa) and talk with so much pretension that 18th century English lords would complain. Hell, they even use the third person when talking to each other! How much more pretentious does it get?

I'm torn about the tone: On the one hand, I liked how the movie avoided overplaying the negative; most movies about racism emphasize how racism tore blacks and whites apart, but the black father and white father in this movie find unity in the tragedy, not separation. But as much as I liked the optimism, I couldn't help wondering about the accuracy concerning the lack of racial tension. According to this movie, blacks and whites got along fairly well. They didn't outright love each other (yet), but you won't find any "Mississippi Burning"-style sheriffs here.

"Cry, the Beloved Country" should have been great. The acting by James Earl Jones and Richard Harris rocked (despite the annoying writing), I liked the authentic atmosphere; you can tell that the movie was filmed in South Africa and some scenes-- like Jones and Harris' first meeting -- could have been really, really powerful. If only the movie had a better script.
½ July 8, 2008
This movie is a great moral story.
½ May 21, 2008
A very powerful film of a priest (Jones) who basically has everything going against him in this film, specifically a son who has killed and another member of his family who's involved in prostitution. Then there's Richard Harris who's son is killed by Jones's son. But the two actually bond in spite of the incident. This film beautifully shot and well acted.
Haven't seen the 1951 Sidney Poitier version but hopefully I'll get to soon.
May 12, 2008
James Earl Jones and sir Richard Harris.. when will you see THAT again?! Amazing.
March 18, 2008
really well done
james earl jones is amazing
a little slow, follows the book well
March 7, 2008
Excellent version - faithfull to the book in the simple understated dialogue. Superbly acted by both principals. Heart wrenching, touching. If you fail to shed a single tear your must be heartless!
March 7, 2008
An excellent film faithfull to the Alan Paton book, no big loud acting here - just a subtle heart wrenching story of the struggle of two men oneither side of the appartheid divide coming to terms with the actions of their sons. Simple dialogue delivered in a beutifully understated way by James Earl Jones and Richard Harris
½ March 4, 2008
Touching, very beautiful movie, and James Earl Jones is of course FANTASTIC!
February 25, 2008
Evidently a remake of an older film, made when the subject matter was daring and relevant. All I remember about it is that it is stark, yet beautiful, cinematographically.
½ February 5, 2008
Touching story of two fathers in grief set against the backdrop of 1940's South Africa. Alan Paton, the author, made a bold statement with this story in a society on the verge of apartheid. I am going to buy that book!!
January 29, 2008
Actually, the reason I'd planned to do a double review here was that they both started with the word "cry." If the library had had [i]Cry-Baby[/i], I would've been all over it. I thought, briefly, about throwing in [i]The Crying Game[/i]--which I own! But then, I actually looked at the [i]plots[/i] of both these movies. I'd put them on my hold list without having bothered to look at the plots, you see, because they were both movies that sounded vaguely familiar. That's been the case with a lot of the films we've gone through, actually. If I've heard of it from somewhere, it generally goes on the list, unless what I'd heard of it was, "My, that's a bad movie." And sometimes even then, hence Creature-o-rama.

But [i]Cry Freedom[/i] is about . . . well, realistically, it's about Donald Woods, a white liberal newspaper editor who ended up fleeing South Africa with his family. However, the thing that shaped his life to the point where he had to flee was his friendship with black activist Steven Biko. More on this anon. Likewise, [i]Cry, the Beloved Country[/i] is about two families, one white and one black, and how they interact in 1946 South Africa. It is very, very difficult for those of us who remember Apartheid to envision a story set in South Africa that [i]wasn't[/i] about the interactions between black and white people; I suppose you could make a movie about paleontologists or something, but I'm not sure it would work even then.

The problem a lot of people have with [i]Cry Freedom[/i], as I alluded to, is that it's not really the story of Steven Biko (Denzel Washington), who is arguably a more significant influence on the blacks of South Africa, and therefore--since the blacks are a majority--the country as a whole. Certainly it's true that it is the story of Donald Woods (Kevin Kline), and Steven Biko is not so much the star as the supporting role. However, I think that it is an equally important story to see the journey one man makes from going along with the status quo to risking his life--after a friend of his was beaten to death in prison, mind--in order to continue his fight against an oppressive regime. Let's face it, Steven Biko's death wouldn't've helped galvanize opposition to Apartheid if no one outside the country knew about it. Part of what ended Apartheid was pressure from other nations, and Donald Woods helped build that pressure. In the name, naturally, of his good friend, Steven Biko. Who is the [i]protagonist[/i] in the sense that the story would not move forward without him.

[i]Cry, the Beloved Country[/i] gives us a stronger focus on the black man, here James Earl Jones. However, in this case, I think a large part of the story [i]should[/i] focus instead on Richard Harris's James Jarvis, as it is his son that has been killed. However, we focus on Rev. Stephen Kumalo, the father of the killer, instead. Now, it is true that the point of the story is that Absolom Kumalo (Eric Miyeni) is guilty of perhaps manslaughter, and he should not have been executed for the crime, and that the reason he was has to do with the unjust system. That, it is true, is an awfully important story. However, James Jarvis has lost a son, and it changes him completely. I guess either story could go either way, really.

Now, I wouldn't be me if I didn't point out that Absolom is a clear Biblical reference, though probably--all things considered--not a Faulkner one. (And thank Gods, because I hated that book.) Abs[i]a[/i]lom was a son of King David, most famous for having been killed, and for the mourning of his father. Both fathers here have lost sons; both fathers here mourn. Both fathers are angry, as King David was angry, about what brought them all to this pass. It is this anger and this grief that allows the fathers to overcome what has separated them, even though one father might well be even angrier at the other.

Actually, Steven Biko and Donald Woods came together because Woods called Biko a racist in one of his columns. (Yes, boys and girls, it [i]is[/i] possible for a black person to be racist. Anyone who dislikes anyone else for the colour of their skin is a racist, no matter what colour whose skin is.) Biko denied the claim, I think rightly, and offered to show Woods the South Africa he did not know. So I guess the moral of today's stories is that friendship can come from unusual places, and what's important is to do good with it. Or something.

Weighty stuff, I know. And I'm sure we'll get into lighter, happier stuff soon; I've got some Al Franken in at the library, for example. And we've got the Cocteau [i]Beauty and the Beast[/i], and so forth. But in the library's catalog, as in life, we must take the serious with the joyful.
January 21, 2008
Powerful story of two fathers seperated by a great social divide and connected by the grief casued when the son of one kills the son of the other. James Earl Jones and Richard Harris give wonderfully acted performances in a poetic piece of work.
January 20, 2008
Strange little flick....seems more like a TV Movie
January 1, 2008
A wonderful story of two fathers separated by a great social divide and connected by the grief caused when the son of one kills the son of the other. A very powerful story told with wonderful acting and poetic movie making.
December 20, 2007
It will teach you and take you there.
½ December 6, 2007
couldn't help but feel like they could have done a better job with this. the book is fantastic. richard harris pulls off his character splendidly but i thought james earl jones didn't quite hit the right tone.
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