A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
Donald Woods is chief editor of the liberal newspaper Daily Dispatch in South Africa. He has written several editorials critical of the views of Steve Biko. But after having met him for the first time, he changes his opinion. They meet several times, and this means that Woods and his family get attention from the security police. When Steve Biko dies in police custody, he writes a book about Biko. The only way to get it published is for Woods himself to illegally escape the country. Written by
A 1960 Chevrolet was seen where Woods was making his way to the Lesotho border. See more »
An extra that played a heavily wounded protester (shot in the back during the revolts) in Soweto jumped out of his lying position in a lively fashion when other extras (that were supposed to carry him off) started lifting him off the ground. See more »
Do you know anyone we can trust, who has a car?
I trust me! And I have a car! The Boers will shit themselves!
See more »
Preceding the final credits is a list of other detainees who died in the custody of the South African police. Steven Biko's name appears on the list. See more »
An ambitious, but a powerful, moving and compelling film
What a brilliant film. I will admit it is very ambitious, with the subject matter. At a little over two and a half hours, it is a very long film too. But neither of these pointers are flaws in any way. Cry Freedom, despite the minor flaws it may have, is a powerful, moving and compelling film about the story of the black activist Steve Biko in his struggles to awaken South Africa to the horrors of the apartheid. It is true, that the first half is stronger than the second in terms of emotional impact. People have also complained that the film suffers from too much Woods not enough Biko. I may be wrong, but although it is Biko's story, it is told in the perspective of Woods, so Woods is an important character in conveying Biko's story to the world.
Cry Freedom visually looks amazing. With the show-stopping cinematography and the stunning South African scenery it was a visual feast. The opening scenes especially were brilliantly shot. George Fenton's music brought real dramatic weight to most scenes. It was subtle in scenes in the second half, but stirring and dramatic in the crowd scenes. The script was of exceptional quality, the courtroom scenes with Biko were enough to really make you think wow this is real quality stuff. The first half with Biko as the main focus constantly had something to feel emotional about, whether it was the police's attack of the South African citizens or Biko's death. The second half entirely about Donald Woods carries less of an emotional punch, but is compensated by how it is shot, performed and written. And there are parts that are genuinely suspenseful as well.
The performances were exceptional from the entire cast, from the most minor character to the two leads, there wasn't a single bad performance. Regardless of the accents that is, but it is forgiven so easily by how much the performances draw you in. Denzel Washington in one of his more understated performances, gives a truly compelling performance as Biko, and Kevin Kline shows that he can be as good at drama as he is at comedy, for he gave a suitably subtle performance to match that of Washington's. And the two men's chemistry is believable and never strikes a false note. Penelope Wilton is lovely as Donald's wife Wendy, and she is a great actress anyway. Out the supporting performances, and there may be some bias, two stood out for me. One was Timothy West, who relishes his role as Captain DeWet. The other was the ever exceptional John Thaw in a brilliantly chilling cameo-role as Kruger. Lord Richard Attenborough's direction is focused and constantly sensitive as usual.
Overall, a truly wonderful film. Ambitious and long it is, but never ceases to be compelling, powerful and achingly moving. A definite winner from Lord Richard Attenborough, and worthy of a lot more praise. 10/10 Bethany Cox
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?