7.1/10
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'Master Harold'... and the Boys (1985)

Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie
When Harold, a young white man, learns that his alcoholic, handicapped father is returning home, his frustration turns into racist viciousness against the two black men who work for the family.

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Master Harold" is what the black employees are ordered to call young Hally, the son of a well-to-do white couple who own a fashionable tea room. Hally wanders into the establishment one day and sees two black male workers practicing for an upcoming ballroom competition by dancing together. The two employees and Hally exchange kidding rebukes, not meant to offend anyone. But after Hally receives some bad news about his father, he takes out his anger upon the workers. Efforts to smooth out the situation erupt into an all-out racial conflict. Written by Anonymous

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Zakes Mokae won the 1982 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actor in a Drama for "Master Harold and the Boys" as Sam and recreated his role in this production. See more »

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Version of 'Master Harold' ... And the Boys (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A major event in my life
26 August 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I watched this movie once as a young boy, and it absolutely destroyed me.

I'm not sure how old I was, but I was just old enough to be home alone when my parents went out for the night. It may have been the first time I was left home alone, as a matter of fact.

Not sure how I ended up watching this movie - it seems an odd choice for a kid staying up past his bedtime because his parents were out to dinner.

In any event, it moved me in a way no movie had before. I was enraptured by the relationship between Master Harold and his servants, the beautiful fatherly care he was shown, and the deep love that existed between them. When Master Harold grows, and begins to see the separation between blacks and whites in apartheid South Africa - when he gets caught up in the evil and intolerance of that horrible time... I was devastated.

I had never cried like I cried at that movie, at the loss of innocence and the purity of the relationship that was so brutally tarnished. I felt like I had lost something myself. I mourned the love that was destroyed… and at the culmination of the film, the realization that a boundary had been crossed, that some words, and some actions can never be undone.

As a young white kid growing up in a sheltered, privileged life, I feared that I might grow to develop that kind of ignorance…in my naiveté I didn't see that I was already being raised to be a good, accepting person and that were I in a place where I could lose that basic humanity, the movie itself would not have had such an impact on me.

In any event, this movie was a formative part of my being, and the adult I have grown up to be. I have a visceral hatred for bigotry and intolerance, and I can say that – of course, along with my parents and their wise guidance – this movie was a significant part of the journey that resulted in this as a guiding principle of who I am as an adult, and how I raise my children.

I have not seen the film again since, and I would be curious to see if the impact would hold true so many years later. But based on my memory of the experience, I couldn't recommend this film more, for children, adults, or anyone who wants a meaningful and powerful look into innocence lost and the damage that can be wrought through ignorance and intolerance.


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