A Dry White Season (1989)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  20 September 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,490 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?


Marlon Brando decreed that his lines and dialogue be audio-transmitted to him via a closed-circuit receiver earplug that he would wear in his ear which Brando claimed was for artistic reasons. See more »


When Susan walks in on Ben and Stanley on Christmas day, she is carrying 2 suitcases and does not have her jacket draped on her shoulders. In the next scene, she is leaving the room with the jacket around her shoulders, is carrying only 1 suitcase and it is different than either of the ones she was carrying initially. See more »


Suzette du Toit: I thought the idea was to give them their own homelands, let them live with their own kind...
See more »


Featured in In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema and Apartheid (1993) 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

A different, but great take on the apartheid story
8 January 2004 | by See all my reviews

Donald Sutherland (one of Hollywood's most undervalued actors) is simply brilliant in this quiet and thought-provoking films. Many black people do not like to see white heroes in films about apartheid or racism. But the truth is, there are many white people who have contributed to the fight for justice, not for black people, but for humanity.

Marlon Brando is also fantastic. Unfortunately, Susan Sarandon's role is quite minimal.

The film is about a white teacher in a posh boys school (whites only) whose gardener asks for his help when his son is arrested and beaten up. The son later dies and the father seeks justice. Sutherland's character is faced with the reality that being a good person and minding one's own business may not be enough, especially when he realises that more is going on in his country than he knows about. As another reviewer has said, Marlon Brando's lawyer character perfectly showcases a brilliant man who has given himself to hopeless causes. he expertly shows in court the injustice that is going on. We see how the legal system worked for the oppressors; knowing this, Brando's character does it anyway. It is the principle that counts. Much like (in a totally different kind of film) King Theoden's words in the Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King, when it is noted that in no way will his army defeat the enemy, replies, 'yes, but we will meet them in battle all the same.' It was people like this who gave of themselves for the sake of others, maybe in future generations to which many of us owe our freedom.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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