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The indoctrination of Gerrit Wolfaardt is complete: his family traditions, history, culture- even his church-have taught him that black South Africans are a cancer in the land. Under the eye of prominent members of the government and military, Gerrit develops a diabolical plan to rid South Africa of its "black danger." Before his plans can be carried out, he meets two people who will put him on a collision course with his future: Celeste, an open-minded University student, and Peter Lekota, a pastor who challenges Gerrit's prejudice. His "final solution" meets its greatest obstacle when Gerrit realizes he is wrong. The Persecutor becomes the Peacemaker and begins to seek reconciliation between whites and blacks. However, in the turbulent last days of apartheid, there are those who doubt his transformation. One such person is Moses Moremi, whom Gerrit had once violently attacked. In the end, it is Moses who must choose between peace and bloodshed. Written by
"No one nation should be complainant, prosecutor and judge" (Nelson Mandela, 1997)
While seeing the film by Krusen, those profound words, said by the South African icon politician and president, came to my mind and intensely touched my heart. Although the words seem to refer in majority to political relations, they interestingly resemble the entire content of FINAL SOLUTION...
The film does not ring the bell to the contemporary movie buffs who always look for the newest blockbusters; the director's name is hardly familiar to people; the title does not indicate much to average movie goers... history buffs will probably be led to Hitler's persecutions of the Jewish people in Nazi monstrosity; however, that is not exactly the case. As a matter of fact, no number one movie at the box office; yet, a sort of film that is a true pearl at the heartfelt experience.
Set at Cape Town, South Africa in the last years of the old system, FINAL SOLUTION depicts the difficult political and social situation that the country was facing at the time. Although this situation appears to be in the background for the true story, it influences everything and everybody. The haunt of Apartheid, the system of legal racial segregation, is still present and results in brutal bloody acts committed onto the innocent black people. Hatred and prejudice is everywhere stepping in various social fields. The true incarnation of this poisonous attitude...
...WAS the leading character, a Saul/Paul-like figure whose strange life events appear to be similarly beyond contemporary comprehension. These events are based on the true character...his name is Gerrit Wolfaardt (Jan Ellis). Before we get to know his youth and the destructive ideals we was raised in, we see him in atonement as a man who has understood the gist of being born again. His metamorphosis from a young, indoctrinated man absorbed by Hitler's MEIN KAMPF and blinded by prejudice into a free soul touched by Paton's CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY and overwhelmed by the power of love is the major theme of the film, something that will stay with viewers for good. Why? Let me refer to the words of the director:
"What I really wanted was to find someone like Saul of Tarsus, who was a persecutor who transformed himself and became the Apostle Paul," Krusen said. "I wanted that kind of metamorphosis." And we can say that the director managed to achieve this goal. The transformation is extremely powerful and the contrast between "Saul" and "Paul" is depicted realistically and dramatically. There are two aspects that clearly led the young man to broader perceptions: first, the woman whom he fell in love with, Celeste (Liezel Van Der Merwe); second, the genuine search for the truth, for the real biblical quotations. There are scenes that touched me immensely: Gerrit observes Celeste teaching...she is a teacher who follows the supreme ideal - love. That is odd if not ridiculous for a man so narcissistic and so blinded in glorifying his own race. Black kids are so vital, so intelligent, so creative...how is it possible that they are 'inferior creatures'? (the "forbidden" thought absorbs his mind). So far, he was roused by blood on his hands, the blood of innocent Moses beat brutally because of the different color of his skin. So far, he has seen black people as creatures who have no right to dream, they are only to obey their masters. His perception is directed towards the Book of Books. He seeks the truth...he chooses some wrong places...meets some wrong people...yet, he does not give up this profound search...until he is ready for the tears of catharsis, for the open heart towards Amazing Grace.
The individual story of Gerrit beautifully contributes to the accurate analysis of the nation, of historical events, of social problems to overcome. The director said that he had made the film for South Africa with the right analysis of her situation. However, this level of individual change touches viewers universally. Being based upon the biblical image, it refers to the very gist where Saul becomes Paul and it is so unreal at first, yet, a miracle in human eyes.
The performances are very well crafted...I liked the performances of Jan Ellis, Mpho Lovinga, John Kani. Of course, the cast, though talented, are not famous. In that case, the whole film becomes more genuine because it is not the names that appear in superior positions but simple human hearts. The credits at the end become more authentic thanks to the footage of real Gerrit Wolfaardt and facts about his later life and actions.
A must see movie! A feast for the soul! A story that touched the most profound dreams of human heart, dreams that, perhaps, are not discovered by many people; yet dreams that constantly need to be proclaimed - foremost, a dream about VICTORY of reconciliation over revenge, VICTORY of Love over hatred where all nations walk hand in hand in joyful giving and forgiving...no utopia but reality, such a spiritual island where FINAL SOLUTION becomes RECONCILIATION. Jesus surely was not black, but he was not white either...He must have looked like many People in his land, in his earthly Nation...
The fact that this spiritual aspect constitutes a core idea in the movie is expressed in the following words of the director where he seems to explain his main goal. Let me end my review with these words which allow you to capture the message:
"It's my own way of saying that there is a way forward. There is a way to overcome differences. And the way is reconciliation." (Chris Krusen)
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