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His Big White Self (2006)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  3 April 2006 (UK)
6.9
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Broomfield revisits his classic and lethal documentary on the Boer separatist Eugene Terre'Blanche, THE LEADER, HIS DRIVER AND THE DRIVER'S WIFE. This time, he had to go back in disguise, ... See full summary »

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Nick Broomfield ...
Himself
Anita Meyer ...
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J.P. Meyer ...
Himself
Eugene Terre'Blanche ...
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Broomfield revisits his classic and lethal documentary on the Boer separatist Eugene Terre'Blanche, THE LEADER, HIS DRIVER AND THE DRIVER'S WIFE. This time, he had to go back in disguise, apparently as a character from a Jilly Cooper novel. Written by Anonymous

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3 April 2006 (UK)  »

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Den store vite mannen  »

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Eugene Terre'Blanche: [discussing his incarceration in prison] I had a murderer beneath me and a rapist on top of me.
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Fifteen years after
25 March 2006 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

As South Africa's racist government came under increasing pressure in the late 1980s, there were many who defended it, rarely by directly agreeing with its ideology, but instead by spreading the idea that the country could not survive democracy: they painted a picture of deep tribal hatred among those of African descent, and pointed also to the inevitability of resistance to change from the privileged European minority. Eugene Terreblanche's AWB, a neo-Nazi militia army, was deplored by such commentators: but also used by them (and consequently talked up) to justify the continued existence of the apartheid state. In 1991, then unknown documentary film maker Nick Broomfield travelled to South Africa to met Terreblance. He discovered the man was a bully but also a buffoon, and when Terreblance refused to co-operate with him, Broomfield did something then rare: he put himself in front of the camera, filmed his own difficulties in making the film, and also his own (almost accidental) ability to wind up his subject. This is now arguably an over-used device (not least by Broomfield himself), but in this film, it really worked. In part this was because the appalling Terreblance was so instinctively unlikable that it was great fun to see Broomfield getting up his nose; but also because of the supporting cast Broomfield discovered, notably the affable (but fervently racist) J.P., Terreblanche's driver, and J.P.'s wife, a Sancho Pancha like figure, combining limited intelligence and basic common sense in equal parts. The resulting film ('The Leader, the Driver, and the Driver's Wife') made Broomfield's reputation, and arguably was the beginning of the end for Terreblanche's: he began a slow (and violent) descent to ridicule and ultimately prison.

There's far less journalistic justification for this sequel, shot on Terreblance's release from prison (especially as Terreblanche, out on parole, was legally prohibited from giving political interviews during the period when Broomfield was trying to film him). But there's still some mileage in the soap opera of the three characters, and in the background, an interesting insight into how South Africa has changed (in spite of the efforts of the AWB). Even so, one wonders whether there might not be more pertinent stories to be told in that county than the contrived rematch between an egotistical journalist, and an even more egotistical maniac. Yet one watches with riveted horror at the peculiar sub-species of humanity we see on display here, thankfully further removed from power than when last caught on film.


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