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The Power of One (1992)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  27 March 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 7,113 users  
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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)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nomadlozi Kubheka ...
Agatha Hurle ...
Nigel Ivy ...
Brendan Deary ...
Winston Mangwarara ...
Tonderai Infant
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


He's had to fight all his life. Now he's fighting for theirs. 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:

O Poder de um Jovem  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,827,107 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Debut theatrical feature film of actor Daniel Craig. See more »


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[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 ...
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User Reviews

A disappointing adaptation. Nothing else.
1 June 2003 | by (Monterrey, Mexico) – See all my reviews

I finished reading the book The Power of One, yesterday at 6pm. I saw the movie yesterday at 10 pm.

I should have waited a little bit longer.

Usually I first see the movie, then, the book it is based on, as not to get disappointed by the differences in it. I should have kept following the rule.

The movie The Power of One is a perfect example of how a producer can buy a story, lent it to a screenwriter who shreds it to pieces and then gives it to a director who mutilates it even more.

I am angry at how the book was mistreated. Angry at how so many characters were eliminated from the screen, angry at how many of the ones left were changed, angry at how the story was folded, twisted and changed for no reason at all, meeting no objective whatsoever.

Killing characters before time, changing names, cutting important scenes, and creating some that don't even come in the book, thus looking artificially inserted.

I know it's standard procedure for Hollywood to change a book in order to fit its necessities. But what have they done to this story is a criminal deed.

It will always, forever be known that the first version of this book was put into screen in such a horrible way.

I feel so angry. My book, my story.

The 513 pages I was so eager to read every night, every break I had, were gone.

The book is about THE POWER OF ONE. Of how a man can change its life, not depend on others if he wants to, or depend on others if he wants to.

To live your life at full extent. Not to fear things that are not worth fearing.

That's what it is about.

The book is not about apartheid and teaching black people. It's not about boxing and eight punch combinations. It's not about music and a mule named Beethoven. It's about persons. It's about A person. The movie totally missed that.

Why change the uncommon, the singular, the unique mythic name -given to Peekay- of "The Tadpole Angel", to one as clumsy, over used, simple and obvious as "The Rainmaker"?

The made the character of Doc a wimpy old guy who at the first chance abandons Peekay. In the book he is a powerful mentor that sticks to his protege. He is the father figure.

Peekay's mom is not around sufficient enough.

Mrs. Boxall, Mrs. Bornstein, Gert, Marie, Dee and Dum, Mevrou Hettie... all those characters you learn to appreciate (not love), are gone in screen.

Morris Levy, Hoppie Greenvald are transformed into something else besides what they are in the book.

The character of Maria Marais is made up for the movie. There was no need for that. How cheap. How low. How commercial.

Just let me tell you this: the director, the producer, whoever was in charge of the actors at the time, wasted away the presence of Armin Muehler Stahl as Doc, Morgan Freeman as Geel Piet and Sir John Gielgud as Sing'n'Burns with such tiny little useless appearances. That alone, is a sin in the cinema universe.

They three must have read the book and expected their characters to be the figures they had read about.

Peekay is a superb and excelse student, athlete and human. He has a pure innocence, will and love. Nothing of that sort is in the movie. They present him as a punchable boxer (he is untouchable in the book, but because he really makes an effort) who has no problems with money (he has to struggle even to get school stationary in the book) and who cares not one bit about the "Rainmaker" ("Tadpole Angel" in the book, where he does and fully accept the honor).

His determination to be the welterweight champion of the world (the representation of his desire to be unafraid, to be independent, to fulfill his power) is nowhere to be seen on screen.

I wasn't surprised to see the ending of Bryce Courtnay's book changed a 100%.

Hopefully, the author of the book expressed his strong discontent to the the movie makers about the treatment of his work.

Justice must be done and a remake must be filmed. The story can be done showing its richness onscreen.

36 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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