The Story of an African Farm (2004)

PG  |   |  Drama, Family  |  8 October 2004 (South Africa)
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Ratings: 4.8/10 from 174 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 6 user | 3 critic | 4 from

The 1870's. South Africa. Life is normal at the farm on the slopes of a Karoo Kopje. Fat Tant Sannie (Karin van der Laag) looks after her charges... See full synopsis »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bonaparte Blenkins
Karin van der Laag ...
Tant Sannie
Luke Gallant ...
Anneke Weidemann ...
Elriza Swanepoel ...
Nichol Petersen ...
Tant Sannie's Maid
Abbe-Gail Hartogh ...
Maid 2
Linda Louw ...
Maid 3
Chris-Jan Steenkamp ...
Sheep Shearer
Ibrahim Adams ...
Clive Smith ...
Jan Bobbejee ...
Farm Labourer 2
Willem Saulse ...
Farm Labourer 2


The 1870's. South Africa. Life is normal at the farm on the slopes of a Karoo Kopje. Fat Tant Sannie (Karin van der Laag) looks after her charges... See full synopsis »

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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Drama | Family

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and brief mild language





Release Date:

8 October 2004 (South Africa)  »

Also Known As:

Bustin' Bonaparte: The Story of an African Farm  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

Brilliant acting, proudly South African film, but outdated and a waste of stunning talent
30 October 2004 | by (Cape Town, South Africa) – See all my reviews

It might be paradoxical to refer to a film set in the Karoo as 'lush', but that is what this film is: both a paradox and lush.

There is a terrific cast: a thoughtful, understated performance by Armin Mueller-Stahl as Otto; a wonderfully toned performance by Richard E. Grant as Bonaparte Blenkins; good acting by the 'children', in particular Luke Gallant as Waldo. Karin van der Laag (who is known to South African viewers as Maggie Webster in Isidingo), gives an excellent portrayal as Tant Sannie, displaying her insularity, her rigidity, her anger and ultimately her vulnerability and final independence. This woman is a stunning actress, and incredibly versatile. (I think it's a pity that Isidingo doesn't air in other countries, because Karin van der Laag is - in my opinion - a brilliant actress, who deserves wider-spread exposure. She is as good as, if not better than, our more famous Charlize Theron. I hope this film convinces agents of this.)

Supporting cast are uniformly good, too.

The film is lushly filmed, well scripted and well directed: a South African product we can be proud of.

But the film is ultimately forgettable, a diversion, one that can never make an impact.

Why then is this film a paradox? Probably because of the slight story line (and kudos to casting director and director for casting Luke Gallant as Waldo) and insular nature of Olive Shreiner's novel. The novel hasn't stood the 'test of time': it is a bit like a dodo's egg. Unlike Pauline Smith's works (if Karoo life, and the 1800's is what the film-makers wished to focus on) this story is jaded. It's juvenile (infantile might be too strong a word, imperceptive, insular and makes no lasting impression.

After seeing the film, I wondered why I felt cheated. And this is why: the story, quite simply, is not good enough. Unlike Jane Austen, Olive Shreiner does not use her narrative to comment on society. South African literature and movies have come a long way over the years.

This film is well-scripted, well filmed, well acted BUT the reservations lie with its subject matter. O for a cast as good as this to be in a film that makes a point, that goes somewhere.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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