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
The filmmakers intended to shoot in South Africa as early as October 1986 with permission from select prominent figures including Oliver Tambo and Winnie Mandela. After interviewing Mandela, the chief production crew was tailed around by the S.A gestapo all the time and was forced to leave South Africa. Also, the SABC at that time deliberately misinterpreted Richard Attenborough's decision of shooting the film in October and instead broadcast the news of him starting a revolution sponsored by Russia. See more »
Although the film is set in South Africa, circa 1977, one of the buses arriving at Steve Biko's funeral plainly bears advertising for Charon's - a Zimbabwean brand of sweets not known in South Africa. See more »
You can beat or jail me or even kill me, but I am not going to be what you want me to be!
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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 »
Richard Attenborough is one storyteller. 'Gandhi' & 'Chaplin' are widely regarded & respected to this date. 'Cry Freedom', according to me, is his finest work since 'Gandhi'. This British drama takes place in a time of violence, and is executed with flourish. Even the performances are top-notch!
'Cry Freedom' is set in the late 1970s, during the apartheid era of South Africa and centers around the real-life events involving black activist Steve Biko and his friend Donald Woods, who initially finds him destructive, and attempts to understand his way of life.
'Cry Freedom' delves into the ideas of discrimination, political corruption, and the repercussions of violence. Based on a pair of books by journalist Donald Woods, this human-tragedy is wonderfully written by John Briley. Also, the dialogue at places, give you goose-flesh. Sure, the writing does drag a bit, but that doesn't effect it's impact.
Richard Attenborough knows what he's making. He knows this isn't an easy story to make. But, the veteran directs each frame with flourish. Cinematography by Ronnie Taylor, is excellent. Editing & Art Design, are perfect.
Performance-Wise: Denzel Washington is fantastic as Steve Biko. He delivers a performance that easily ranks amongst his finest works to date. Kevin Kline as Donald Woods, on the other-hand, is restrained all through. Not once does he go over the top. Penelope Wilton is effective. Kevin McNally scores. Others lend good support.
On the whole, 'Cry Freedom' is a terrific film, that over-shadows it's flaws, cleverly. Don't miss this one!
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