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Cry Freedom (1987)

South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko.

Writers:

(screenplay), (books)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Josette Simon ...
Dr. Ramphele
Wabei Siyolwe ...
Tenjy
John Matshikiza ...
Mapetla
Juanita Waterman ...
Evelyn Sithole ...
Nurse at clinic
Xoliswa Sithole ...
Nurse at clinic
James Coine ...
Young boy
...
...
Ken
Albert Ndinda ...
Alec
Andrew Whaley ...
Sub-Editor
Shelley Borkum ...
Woods' receptionist
...
...
Wendy Woods
...
Jane Woods
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Storyline

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 Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of the friendship that shook South Africa and awakened the world


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 November 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grito de libertad  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$29,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$5,899,797 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First theatrical feature film produced by a major Hollywood studio of renowned Australian actor John Hargreaves. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Steve Biko: I just expect to be treated like you expect to be treated. Come on, what are you so afraid of? Once you try you see there's nothing to fear. We're just as weak and human as you are.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Siskel & Ebert: Oscar Nomination Surprises for 1987 (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Terrific Film!
1 May 2011 | by (India) – See all my reviews

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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