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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 7,145 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 9 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 »



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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


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:

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?


Kark von Vollensteen (Armin Mueller-Stahl) teaches piano to P.K. Newborn as his character would later do in Shine (1996) with to Geoffrey Rush the latter of whom won a Best Actor Academy for his role. 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 Rocky (1976) See more »


Written by Hans Zimmer and Lebo M.
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User Reviews

Movie certainly not up to par with the fantastic book
19 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Power Of One is based on a novel by the very talented Bryce Courtenay. The sequel novel,Tandia, which picks up right where The Power of One left off is equally moving and compelling reading.I am promptly going to go out and read everything else he has written. Both The Power of One and Tandia have moved me beyond words. I am a white South African girl who spent 19 years of my life in SA. I led a very privileged, sheltered childhood growing up in South Africa. I was just 15 when apartheid fell apart. My parents were not racist and in fact my father dedicated his life to working as a doctor in a very poor area but I still , unbelievably, never really had a very clear picture of the horror of apartheid until Mr Courtenay outlined it so vividly in these books.(as I said I was sheltered as a white child)I feel extraordinarily blessed and lucky to have directly avoided the violence and sickness that invaded my country for so long just because I was lucky enough to be born with white skin. I now live in the States but South Africa will always be home. I wept most of the way through both books. I have never been so moved in my life.Mr Courtenay summed up perfectly the collective guilt that white South Africans must carry with them forever more for our people's legacy of hate and brutality and oppression Even if we ourselves are not guilty - our people are guilty.He also, of course, inspires us to believe that one person can make a difference and that sanity,justice and compassion can win in the end even if the fight is long and hard.For those of you who think the characters are too stereotyped- in some aspects you are right. Not all Afrikaaners are the evil, racist villains that are portrayed in the books . However, I certainly encountered people growing up with unbelievable racism, fear and hate who do match some of the characters in the book.So there is truth to his characters also. I have no doubt that the brutality was accurate. One only has to look at historical events in SA history to confirm that. Thank you Mr Courtenay for your wonderful gift and for sharing it with the world.

As for the movie: I must admit it has been years since I happened upon it on television late at night. I do remember being quite swept up in the film but then being disappointed with the direction they chose to take it in. A Hollywood ending on what could have been a remarkable African movie.I do understand that film is a completely different medium and changes were necessary to adapt the book to film. Still I cannot help being disappointed with some of the changes that I deemed uneccessary such as the changing of Peekay's name from the wonderful, mystical"The Tadpole Angel" or "onoshobishobi ingelosi" to "The rainmaker" Come on! That's lame! The rainmaker?!That has none of the same feeling the other names invoke.The addition of the girlfriend just to give Peekay a love interest is unnecessary fluff and her character not well developed enough to warrant such an addition.Nonetheless, the film is still worth seeing.

I must say that I truly do hope that someone else re-makes this and does a better job.Tandia would make a fantastic film also. I am going to buy a copy on DVD and re-watch it and the post my thoughts here after refreshing it in my mind. I highly recommend reading both The Power Of One and Tandia to all interested in the history of apartheid in South Africa or just those looking for a good drama and a fascinating stories with strong characters.Even if you hate to read and are intimidated by the thought of reading such large books- just start- I guarantee you, you won't be able to put both these books down!If you haven't seen the film or read the books, I guess you should watch the film first. Otherwise you will be sorely disappointed and outraged at all the negative changes and you won't be able to truly enjoy the film for what it is: a nice attempt at an adaptation of a marvellous book.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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