A Dry White Season (1989)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  20 September 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,488 users  
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 1 win & 7 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


Drama | Thriller


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
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Did You Know?


Website Wikipedia states that "director Euzhan Palcy was so passionate about creating an accurate portrayal on film that she traveled to Soweto undercover, posing as a recording artist, to research the riots. Actor [Marlon] Brando was so moved by Palcy's commitment to social change that he came out of a self-imposed retirement to play the role of the human rights lawyer; he also agreed to work for union scale ([US] $4,000), far below his usual fee. The salaries of [actor Donald] Sutherland and [actress Susan] Sarandon were also reduced and the film was budgeted at only [US] $9 million". 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 »


Ben du Toit: Jesus, Susan, this is not just about Gordon! This is about all of us!
Susan du Toit: No. It's about all of *them*. And I will be damned if I let them destroy my family. I don't want Gordon's ghost in my house! I don't want the one with the dark glasses, any of these kaffirs here ever again! I just want to go back to the way it was!
Ben du Toit: If you had come with me... if you had seen what was happening in that court, you would know that we can never go back to the way it was.
Susan du Toit: I *was* in the court.
Ben du Toit: What?
Susan du Toit: Listen to me, ...
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.
See more »

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User Reviews

Accurate but incomplete portrayal of the old South Africa
29 March 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

If you want to understand what the old South Africa could be like at its worst, this movie accurately portrays it. Well acted and only slightly over-dramatized, it gives you the sense of how the ruling culture was blind to its own injustices. Those who oppose the main character from within his own family make some valid points, and that makes it all the more chilling.

As someone who lived in South Africa until shortly before the year this movie is set in (and was forced to leave because I opposed apartheid), I can't fault the authenticity of this movie but I want to caution viewers not to form all your opinions of white South Africans from this type of film. There is a good side to every culture, but it is harder to portray and doesn't always make great box office.

If this movie leaves you hating anyone, you are taking away the wrong message. If it leaves you realizing this could happen anywhere, and ordinary good people can easily find themselves on the wrong side in situations like this, that is the right message to take away.

38 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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