James Gregory once lived in a farm and had befriended a native youth, Bafana, and had even had a photograph taken with him. Years later, now married to Gloria and father of three children (Chris, Brett, and Natasha), James has nothing but shame and regret, as many South African Caucasians in the oppressive Apartheid-era ridiculed him, leading him to hate Africans. He seeks to redeem himself by spying on imprisoned African National Congress Leader, Nelson Mandela. In the restrictive high security prison his job is to censor all written and verbal communications between prisoners, their visitors, and correspondence. James is uncomfortable when he witnesses Caucasian police and security officers' brutality against civilians, including infants, and tries to understand why Nelson became a rebel. This leads him to examine the 'Freedom Charter', a banned document, reportedly known to incite violence against 'whites'. And when he does read this document, he changes his mind about Nelson's ... Written by
When the car explodes in front of an office building after two officers walk by, the blast should have shattered the office windows (and there are sounds of breaking glass), yet they remain intact. See more »
[in prison, to his visiting wife, speaking Xhosa; subtitles read]
Tell him that all of us in here agree he should escalate the armed struggle. The country must become ungovernable.
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Goodbye Bafana is a touching, thought-provoking movie. Extremely well acted, I loved Joseph Fiennes (James Gregory) and Dennis Haysbert (Nelson Mandela) in their roles, and Diane Kruger (Gloria Gregory) did well, too. The movie has the slow, a bit mysterious charm in it, as August's movies usually do. The color scheme was like African dust, diluted, sometimes almost raw in the scorching sun. Music supported various scenes very well, without being too prominent.
The movie starts when a young prison warden James Gregory arrives to Robben Island 1968 and is addressed to keep an eye on Nelson Mandela, who is being imprisoned there for his political views. Gregory gets this mission, because he speaks xhosa, the local language, and therefore is able to read (and censor) the correspondence in and out of the prison, as well as understand what the prisoners talk to each other.
James Gregory is a faithful supporter of apartheid. He believes these black men are behind bars for a good reason and he supports the government politics. After he and his family witness a raid in a busy street, where black people are randomly harassed, Gregory has to answer the questions of his children - and his explanations sounded shallow even in his own ears. Very slowly, over the years, he became to see through the apartheid and change his views.
Dennis Haysbert was chosen to the role of Mandela, because of his quiet, distinctive charm and mental power. He did a great job. Joseph Fiennes was chosen because Bille August wanted an actor, who was tough and yet sensitive, someone who would be able to portray the change in the character in a period of almost thirty years. It was a very challenging role but Joe did a marvelous job.
There has been a lot of talk about his South African accent, and mostly it has been praised. I followed it very closely, and I think Joe did fine in that area, too. In some scenes the British accent is more or less audible, but most of the time he does a wonderful job.
Diane Kruger did a good job as James's wife, a mother of two, who was also raising their kids to support the apartheid. She opposed her husband being a warden for Nelson Mandela, because she could see that the close contact with the inmate made cracks to James's shield and his racistic opinions were vanishing rapidly. She tried to hold onto the apartheid views for much longer than her husband.
The movie ends to a year 1990, when Nelson Mandela is released from prison after being incarcerated for 27 years. The era of the new South Africa was to begin.
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