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A Dry White Season (1989)

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
See  »

Did You Know?


Quite a number of the black South African actors appearing in this film were fearful of reprisals from the South African government, when they returned home after principal photography on the picture wrapped. 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 »


Melanie Bruwer: You'd better put your rage into perspective, Benjamin Du Toit. This is a long distance race, you'll need to pace yourself.
Ben du Toit: I suppose cynicism goes with the job!
Melanie Bruwer: It's not cynicism, it's realism.
Ben du Toit: It has nothing to do with *my* reality.
Melanie Bruwer: It has *everything* to do with your reality. Just because you haven't seen it before doesn't mean hasn't always existed!
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

watch it and never forget.
24 April 1999 | by (lancaster, uk) – See all my reviews

One day in South Africa in the 1960's, a young black man was walking along the street with his aged mother. Coming along the road was a young white man. The young black man knew that apartheid law and custom meant that the white would probably barge the two blacks off the pavement and into the gutter. The law would protect him and the young black man might be imprisoned for defending himself. The young black man tensed his muscles and prepared to defend his mother, but was amazed when the Englishman stepped off the pavement and doffed his broad brimmed hat in greeting. Later on the two would become friends and allies. The white man was to become bishop Trevor Huddleston, the black man, bishop Desmond Tutu.

That story is NOT the story of A Dry White season, but it is of a kindred spirit. Like the gesture of Trevor Huddleston, the story of Ben de Tor is a gesture against apartheid. A glimmer of hope, but merely that, a flicker.

It must be five years since I saw a Dry White Season but I still remember how I felt leaving the cinema. It is a film which will stay with you.

The plot follows a white South African on an adventure through bewilderment, revelation, denial, disgust, and a futile attempt to fight a grossly unfair system.

I can't go into detail after this length of time but the cameos in this film would be worth the video rental. Marlon Brando (yes) steals the show as the lawyer who knows exactly how hopeless the fight against apartheid is but agrees to fight anyway.

The political situation today in South Africa is a world away from that of A Dry White Season. Watch it and never forget.

39 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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