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Langston Whitfield is a Washington Post journalist. His editor provocatively sends him to South Africa to cover the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, in which the perpetrators of murder and torture on both sides during Apartheid are invited to come forward and confront their victims. By telling the unvarnished truth and expressing contrition, they may be granted amnesty. Can the deep wounds of Apartheid be healed through reconciliation? Langston is deeply skeptical. He tracks down Col. De Jager, the most notorious torturer in the SA Police and tries to penetrate the mind of a monster, an experience that obliges him to confront his own demons. Anna Malan is an Afrikaans poet who is covering the hearings for radio. As a white South African she is shattered by the accounts of the cruelty and depravity committed by her fellow countrymen. Anna and Langston must both question their sense of identity. Where do they each belong? How responsible are they for what is done in the ... Written by
This is one of the worst examples of the Hollywood dumb-down syndrome.
Made on a shoestring budget and in what looks like about 3 months from inception to release, it is a cheap and cynical film.
The book by Antjie Krog is a must-read: A deeply moving relating of the TRUE experiences related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Ms Krog's very personal reactions to it. It's not fiction.
But by mixing silly fictional stories (such as midnight investigation of torture cells, carjackings, etc) with the genuine tragedies, the real stories have been cheapened and one wonders which is real and which is made up. This is a gross dismissal of the real pain of the victims and their families, and the real evil of the perpetrators.
The problems with this movie are never ending, and include:
1. Script - very badly written. Storyline was dumbed down with the inclusion of fictional issues, dialogue is atrocious.
2. Direction - probably the worst of Boorman's career.
3. Lighting - looks like they could only afford 1 klieg and used it all the time to get maximum value.
4. Acting - Binoche's accent kept slipping (why they couldn't use a South African for the role is a puzzle), support actors were in the main poor, Jackson was just OK.
6. Sound - not even up to the standard of a first-year film school project.
8. Editing - bits and pieces picked up off the editing room floor and glued together. It looks like a first cut, and it probably was.
7. Production - the producers must ultimately take the blame for this abortion. They took a deeply moving, thoughtful and true book and turned it into a bad b-movie without the car chases and explosions.
READ THE BOOK, and avoid the movie.
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