7.5/10
11,267
51 user 22 critic

Cry Freedom (1987)

South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko.

Writers:

John Briley (screenplay), Donald Woods (books)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Josette Simon Josette Simon ... Dr. Ramphele
Wabei Siyolwe Wabei Siyolwe ... Tenjy
John Matshikiza ... Mapetla
Juanita Waterman Juanita Waterman ... Ntsiki Biko
Evelyn Sithole Evelyn Sithole ... Nurse at clinic
Xoliswa Sithole Xoliswa Sithole ... Nurse at clinic
James Coine James Coine ... Young boy
Kevin Kline ... Donald Woods
Kevin McNally ... Ken
Albert Ndinda Albert Ndinda ... Alec
Andrew Whaley Andrew Whaley ... Sub-Editor
Shelley Borkum Shelley Borkum ... Woods' receptionist
Denzel Washington ... Steve Biko
Penelope Wilton ... Wendy Woods
Kate Hardie ... Jane Woods
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Storyline

Donald Woods is chief editor of the liberal newspaper Daily Dispatch in South Africa. He has written several editorials critical of the views of Steve Biko. But after having met him for the first time, he changes his opinion. They meet several times, and this means that Woods and his family get attention from the security police. When Steve Biko dies in police custody, he writes a book about Biko. The only way to get it published is for Woods himself to illegally escape the country. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of the friendship that shook South Africa and awakened the world


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 November 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Grito de libertad See more »

Filming Locations:

Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$29,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$318,723, 8 November 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,899,797, 31 December 1988

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,899,797
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Richard Attenborough, Denzel Washington (Stephen Biko), Kevin Kline (Donald Woods), and Alec McCowen (Acting High Commissioner) all later appeared in Shakespearean films directed by Kenneth Branagh: McCowen played the Bishop of Ely in Henry V (1989), Washington played Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Attenborough played the English Ambassador in Hamlet (1996), and Kline played Jacques in As You Like It (2006). See more »

Goofs

During the opening sequence, actual photos from the contemporary ghetto, and a few of actual police action in the ghettos, are shown interspersed with recreations for the film. While very accurate, there are a number of small inconsistencies that reveal the disparity.

Most notable are newspaper clippings and posters on walls behind characters (such as the clipping behind the studying girl) which are similar though clearly different, and the police vehicles; the mine-protected vehicles in the stills were not available outside South Africa at the time of filming, so are replaced with Land Rovers and cargo trucks. See more »

Quotes

Steve Biko: You can beat or jail me or even kill me, but I am not going to be what you want me to be!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening disclaimer: "With the exception of two characters whose identity has been concealed to ensure their safety, all the people depicted in this film are real and all the events true." See more »

Alternate Versions

On certain versions, the list of detainees who died in custody (see "Crazy Credits") is followed by a message: "Since the re-imposition of Emergency Regulations on 11th June, 1987, no further information regarding political detainees has been forthcoming." See more »

Connections

Featured in Richard Attenborough: A Life in Film (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fine all round performances
1 April 2002 | by redkiwiSee all my reviews

Billed as the story of Steve Biko -- played excellently by Denzel Washington, as you'd expect -- this was actually more the story of Donald Woods, played by Kevin Kline.

This was undoubtedly the making of Kline as a serious actor, and he was surprisingly good in the role.

Attenborough gave this the sort of direction you'd expect, and the often spectacular scenes of the masses were those of the sort that only he can get across.

The remainder of the cast was competent enough and did a good job, in what ends up as an ultimately sad tale of a South Africa that is still nowhere near the distant past.


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