Here is one of those movies - this one from South Africa - that are destined to slip through the cracks of unknown film limbo, the only copies of which can be found as old rental VHS tapes. I randomly found one such copy from long-defunct distributor Prism Entertainment, and decided to watch for two reasons: A) The subject matter of the Boer War was topical, unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed the only well-known film on the subject, "Breaker Morant, and 2) Any period drama is at least guaranteed not to be terrible.
The story takes the point of view of the local Boer farmers in 1900 South Africa, and the ones portrayed here are subject to property seizure and other humiliations at the hands of British Imperial soldiers fighting a guerilla war (the first time the term was used) against Boer rebels. First, the good points: I give the filmmakers credit for portraying a little-known and embarrassing historical footnote in British history - its treatment of imperial subjects in general and the Boers in particular. The cinematography is generally good, and the costumes and sets are appropriate.
Now, the bad points: subject matter as explosive as this should be a fine catalyst for a solid period drama, but the filmmakers somehow failed. Their biggest failure is a shallow approach to what was a very complex war. During the Boer War, neither the Boers nor the British could be considered the good guys. The British treated South Africa as another imperial resource to be exploited, and the Boers employed ruthless terrorism on the British. One thing I greatly respected about "Breaker Morant" was its dive into the myriad complexities in its storyline. However, all we get here is a maudlin storyline about how a Boer family must face injustice after injustice from British soldiers. Historically, events such as these were probably accurate, but without much background expository, they feel like soap opera or a made-for-TV movie. None of the acting is what I would call stellar - there are no prolific actors in the cast - but most of it is passable. My conclusion is that there is some terrific material here, but the acting and film-making was just not professional enough to give it the treatment it deserved (evidently, the writer/director had little film experience and did not make much after this film). It is worth a look if you are completely unfamiliar with the Boer War, but don't expect anything in-depth.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this