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A Dry White Season (1989)

R  |   |  Drama, History, Thriller  |  20 September 1989 (USA)
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Reviews: 32 user | 13 critic

Ben du Toit is a schoolteacher who always has considered himself a man of caring and justice, at least on the individual level. When his gardener's son is brutally beaten up by the police ... See full summary »



(novel) (as André Brink) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben du Toit
Susan du Toit
Stanley Makhaya
Captain Stolz (as Jurgen Prochnow)
Melanie Bruwer
Winston Ntshona ...
Gordon Ngubene
Thoko Ntshinga ...
Emily Ngubene
Leonard Maguire ...
Gerard Thoolen ...
Colonel Viljoen
Suzette du Toit
Andrew Whaley ...
Rowen Elmes ...
Johan du Toit
Stella Dickin ...
Susan's Mother
David de Keyser ...
Susan's Father (as David De Keyser)


Ben du Toit is a schoolteacher who always has considered himself a man of caring and justice, at least on the individual level. When his gardener's son is brutally beaten up by the police at a demonstration by black school children, he gradually begins to realize his own society is built on a pillar of injustice and exploitation. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assassinato Sob Custódia  »

Box Office


$3,766,879 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie's closing credits roll declares that "this film was made on location in Zimbabwe and at Pinewood Film Studios in England . . . ". See more »


When the camera pulls away from the court house (Harare City Hall) a bus drives past displaying an advertisement for Balkan Bulgarian Airlines, which flew to Zimbabwe, but not to South Africa under apartheid during the 1970s. See more »


Johan du Toit: I don't want you to give up, papa.
See more »


Featured in The 62nd Annual Academy Awards (1990) See more »


Written by Joseph Shabalala
Performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
Produced by Danny Lawson for Night After Night Ltd.
Additional vocal performances by the cast of Sarafina
See more »

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User Reviews

Gripping tale about social injustice
5 May 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Apartheid gripped South Africa for many years. One heard the news with total disbelief, as things got worse in that country. Euzhan Palcy has brought Andre Brink's novel to the screen making a statement along the way about what was wrong in South Africa under the brutal repression of those that dared to make a stand.

The carnage one sees in the film is hard to take. Especially, since one occurrence is directed to innocent children who are trying to make a stand about education. At the time, the white establishment labeled communist all those that dared oppose the ruling class. It's ironic that after things got to be democratic, those same rebels didn't turn the country into a communist state.

The story centers on a white teacher that suddenly awakens to what is happening around him. His involvement comes through his gardener, Gordon, who is a decent man. When the gardener's son is arrested, Gordon turns to Ben for help. That will mark the beginning of Ben's passive attitude toward apartheid. By trying to help, Ben will be a marked man, a traitor to his people, according to even his own family.

Donald Sutherland makes an excellent Ben, the former football star and teacher. We watch him as he gets deeply involved in his quest for justice in a land where it was unknown. Zakes Mokae, an immensely talented actor of stage and screen, plays Stanley the man that serves as a link between the struggling faction and Ben. Jurgen Prochnow plays the sadistic Capt. Stolz conveying all the cruelty and arrogance of the man. Janet Suzman is Ben's wife, a woman who doesn't want to see any changes in her cushy life.

The surprise of the film is the appearance of Marlon Brando in a small, but pivotal role of Ian McKenzie, a barrister that brings the case to a court of justice, but it's defeated by the system. Mr. Brando made a tremendous contribution to the film.

Ms. Palcy's film is a reminder of the injustice perpetuated in South Africa under the apartheid rule.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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