Up 199 this week

The Power of One (1992)

 -  Drama  -  27 March 1992 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.1/10 from 6,409 users  
Reviews: 67 user | 8 critic

The Power of One is an intriguing story of a young English boy named Peekay and his passion for changing the world. Growing up he suffered as the only English boy in an Afrikaans school. ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 32 titles
created 20 Nov 2011
a list of 46 titles
created 12 Jan 2012
a list of 29 titles
created 26 Feb 2012
a list of 38 titles
created 27 Mar 2012
a list of 40 titles
created 8 months ago

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Power of One (1992)

The Power of One (1992) on IMDb 7.1/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Power of One.

User Polls

1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

English teacher John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day.

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT, has a gift for mathematics but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Rain Man (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated.

Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn
Philadelphia (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a man with AIDS is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell
Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a T.V. show.

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young writing prodigy finds a mentor in a reclusive author.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Connery, Rob Brown, F. Murray Abraham
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two fly-fishing sons of a Presbyterian minister--one reserved, one rebellious--grow up in rural Montana.

Director: Robert Redford
Stars: Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt
Awakenings (1990)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years ago have been catatonic ever since, but now a new drug offers the prospect of reviving them.

Director: Penny Marshall
Stars: Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner
Sling Blade (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.

Director: Billy Bob Thornton
Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The life and trials of a young African American woman.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey


Cast overview, first billed only:
Nomadlozi Kubheka ...
Agatha Hurle ...
Nigel Ivy ...
Brendan Deary ...
Winston Mangwarara ...
Tonderai Infant
Guy Witcher ...
Tonderai Masenda ...
Cecil Zilla Mamanzi ...
Ranch Foreman
John Turner ...
Afrikaner Minister
Robbie Bulloch ...
Jaapie Botha
Gordon Arnell ...
Minister at Mother's Funeral
Jeremiah Mnisi ...
Dabula Manzi
Paul Tingay ...


The Power of One is an intriguing story of a young English boy named Peekay and his passion for changing the world. Growing up he suffered as the only English boy in an Afrikaans school. Soon orphaned, he was placed in the care of a German national named Professor von Vollensteen (a.k.a. "Doc"), a friend of his grandfather. Doc develops Peekay's piano talent and Peekay becomes "assistant gardener" in Doc's cactus garden. It is not long after WWII begins that Doc is placed in prison for failure to register with the English government as a foreigner. Peekay makes frequent visits and meets Geel Piet, an inmate, who teaches him to box. Geel Piet spreads the myth of the Rainmaker, the one who brings peace to all of the tribes. Peekay is cast in the light of this myth. After the war Peekay attends an English private school where he continues to box. He meets a young girl, Maria, with whom he falls in love. Her father, Professor Daniel Marais, is a leader of the Nationalist Party of South ... Written by Greg Brunson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An exhilarating epic of a triumph of the heart. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some areas of strong violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

27 March 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Power of One  »

Box Office


$2,827,107 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ethan Hawke and Sean Astin were considered for the role of P.K. See more »


When PK's character goes from 12 to 18 years old, the caption is "Johannesburg 1948". After the classroom scene and as PK and Morrie are walking past the fountain after the art lesson, Morrie says, " the Queen has for boules..." In 1948, George VI was the monarch. Elizabeth II, his daughter, did not ascend to the throne until 1952, four years later. However, the wife of a British King is known as the "Queen". Therefore, Morrie may have been referring to George VI's wife, Queen Elizabeth (later known as "The Queen Mother" after her daughter ascended to the throne). See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: In the 1680s, Dutch, French and Germans fled religious persecution in Europe and settled in Southern Africa. They called themselves the Afrikaners. White Africans. / For the next 250 years, the British Empire fought the Afrikaners for control of the land, the gold and 20 million Native Africans. / In 1948, a conservative Afrikaner government was voted into power. A system of segregation first introduced by the English was declared the law of the land. / The English never gave the ...
See more »


References The Karate Kid (1984) See more »


Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built For Two)
By Harry Dacre (uncredited)
Performed by The Bulawayo Concert Band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

One of the Better films of the 90's
29 July 2004 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

Caution-Minor Spoilers ahead: John Avildsen could be considered the most interesting director of his generation if only for the huge range of quality among his films and the fact these differences seem to have little correlation with his level of experience. His best films include Joe (one of his first efforts), Rocky (several years later), and this film (late in his career). Mixed in between these high points are some moderate successes (Lean on Me and Save the Tiger) and some total dogs (Neighbors, The Karate Kid, WW and the Dixie Dance Kings, and Rocky V). It is hard to believe that it was same person, you either have to credit Avildsen with the 'courage' to take on even the most hopeless of scripts or with such financial desperation that he had to take anything that came his way.

With Avildsen the 'courage' angle (willing to attempt something without fear of failure and able to bounce back after failure) is the more likely, since courage is the recurring theme of most of his films: the solitary individual pitted against the oppressive and dehumanizing forces of the 'status quo'.

This is certainly true of 'The Power of One'. Bryce Courteney's book had that same theme and the film adaptation preserved it. Critics of the adaptation (and lovers of the book) complain that this is about the only thing that Avildsen preserved. While they are technically correct, their complaints are rather silly because the book(s) were basically un-filmable (at least commercially) and film is a different medium making comparison illogical anyway. While all adaptations contain many elements of a story, there will be omissions and changes-particularly with a novel like Courteney's. Those who complain that this adaptation was incomplete and inaccurate probably complained that 'Clueless' was an inaccurate adaptation of Jane Austin's 'Emma'. The point is that a movie is a movie and a book is a book. Actually this film was a blending of Courteney's story with Stephen Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' with the main character having to move from dependence to independence (private victory) before he can become effectively interdependent (public victory) and influence others. As someone said earlier, 'The Power Of One', despite ending with a statement proposing a bland union of absolute conviction, is not expansive but rather interior in its meaning. And this is indeed the paradox of art, when experiencing something the details are rapidly subsumed (as in subjective).

This is a more political story than the novel but the political elements are superficial and simplistic. And the premise of a white boy leading a whole race of people to their salvation is a bit over the top, an unnecessary and forced way of extending Courteney's individual inner power to a collective unity. But such is the nature of film, where pacing considerations and time constraints make reliance on stereotypes necessary to economically convey a message. And in a sweeping historical story like this there is no way to provide a great deal of depth to the characters. But Avildsen does a good job with his main character, a consistent style of frequent reaction shots of PK remind the viewer that the film is entirely his point-of-view and his impressions as he grows up. The solitary individual pitted against an oppressive power structure, his 'power of one' being an ability to experience personal tragedy/inhumanity and yet retain his humanness, as a child he learns to not let fear restrict the experience of living.

What makes the film good is that while Avildsen's political message is heavy-handed and stereotyped, he makes good use of the time this buys him for other story elements. Some have asked why Fay Masterson's 'Maria' character was added to the screenplay (Maria was not in Courteney's novel). This was a special subtle touch by Avildsen. Masterson is as perfect looking as Nicole Kidman but somehow much more real. Two of the best visual scenes in the film revolve around her character. The first is PK's initial glimpse of Maria in the audience at his championship fight (homage to Rocky's search for Adrian in the crowd). It is visually amazing-Masterson has an angelic glow in this shot which makes PK's instant enthrallment and improbable pursuit seem quite believable. And Masterson handles the subtle acting requirements of this difficult role extremely well, representing those Afrikaners who were able to overcome their childhood indoctrination, see their racist institutions for what they were, and work for change. The other key scene is Maria's funeral where Avildsen shows her father's sudden grasp of what a special person she was, and special for the very qualities he tried to suppress in her while she was still alive. This scene could have been clumsy and silly but Avildsen stages it with such subtlety that we accept that her father has been inspired to work for reform. Film is such a powerful medium because when done correctly it can visually tell a story in a few seconds more convincingly than in a hundred pages of text.

Bottom line this is not a perfect movie nor is it an accurate adaptation of the book. It is a very entertaining film more 'inspired' by the book than adapted from it. It has great visuals of the veldt and has wonderful African music. The historical subject is worth telling and the individual themes of justice, hope, and courage offer a very positive message. 7 out of 10

11 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What does PK stand for? My teacher edited it out. smasher303
Ok, vs. movie? princessdey1
Book or Movie muscles_47
Disappointing Film mein-5
Whats this movie like?? Radioheadfan
Daniel Craig cubelli
Discuss The Power of One (1992) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: