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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
John Boorman, an interesting film maker, takes us to South Africa after Apartheid. Right after the country underwent the big change during the last decade of the last century, a commission was formed in order to hear the atrocities that were committed by the old regime, as the victims, and their families, were invited to come forward and speak to the panel that was investigating. The film is based on a novel by Antjie Krog, but not having read it, one can't really give an opinion about how true the film is to the novel.
"In my Country", the movie based on this book in its American release, came and went quickly. We tried to see it during its debut, bu it disappeared from local screens in no time. We recently caught the movie on cable.
There are some interesting aspects of what the commission was trying to accomplish in trying to bring members of the repressive force to justice. As in other conflicts, the people that were involved in the atrocities keep repeating about how they were following orders, a poor excuse, since no one owned up to having done anything wrong. After all, this was a country in which a white minority controlled a big black majority, and who wanted to keep things unchanged.
At the center of the story is Anna Malan, a white South African, who is a radio personality. She follows the commission as more and more people are coming forward to tell their stories. A Washington Post black reporter, Langston Whitfield, is also covering the process. Inevitably, both come together. While they clash at first, they find common ground in their desire to tell the truth about South Africa.
Juliette Binoche and Samuel L. Jackson are seen as Anna and Langston. Both give good performances. Brendan Gleeson is seen as the evil De Jager, a man responsible for some of the crimes committed against the poor black of the country who were deemed terrorist by the controlling whites. Menzi Ngubone plays Dumi, Anna's assistant and Sam Ngakone makes a dignified appearance as Anderson, who works for Anna's family.
The film is interesting to watch as Mr. Boorman has given us a film to think about the criminal acts that were committed by a group of people that didn't stop to consider the consequences of what they were doing.
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