Cry, the Beloved Country Reviews
The final court scenes are where the awkwardness and repetition culminate to infantile extremes. Kumalo's son states what he did over and over, in droll monotone, but never once explains why! It made me so angry, how he did NOTHING to appeal his own impending execution and by the end of it all, I couldn't wait to see him be hanged, if only to be rid of such a moronic idiot.
The film is overly preachy but says nothing and it puts forth every point with such lifelessness you'd have more fun watching a sex education tape. In it's approach and visual style it's barely breathing; a stuffy, stiff, Z-grade TV production at best. Half a star as a rating is too much. Flixster needs to give us the option to award a no star rating. If you somehow come across this, unplug your TV or burn the physical product.
Still, this is a touching and powerful film. Richard Harris acts the hell out of this role. His two scenes with James Earl, where so much is left unsaid, are like little minimalist miracles. Seriously.
Admittedly the poetic rhythm and love of the novel is difficult to interpret on screen. Transferred to screen the dialogue seems stiff and the story stolid - and even the majestic sweep of South Africa seems to shrink. This is a film that cries for 70mm anamorphic treatment. Both the characters and the country need space to breathe, and if they aren't given this; if they are shot conventionally, without care and attention, if they are not given a minims silence, you get this.
Both James Earl Jones and Richard Harris are men that have great on screen charisma. Yet Jones simply cannot carry the fragility of the character here, and Harris's role seems insignificant, while the music washes the whole thing down with a slosh of inappropriate sentimentality.
It tries, but the characters, even on a big screen seem to shrink to a TV, and at times they even bore. The material needed better direction.