Katrina and her son, Paul, look and live as white people but they are coloureds (mixed race in South Africa). Paul, blonde, who has just returned from England and has been offered a job as ...
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Katrina and her son, Paul, look and live as white people but they are coloureds (mixed race in South Africa). Paul, blonde, who has just returned from England and has been offered a job as a doctor at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, does not know that he is coloured. A new pastor Alec Trevellan, arrives and falls in love with Katrina. He also has a dark secret from the past. Katrina's brother, Adam, warns both Katrina and Alec against getting married. He invites Alec to visit the village where Katrina was born.Written by
Petr Vavruch, Cape Town, South Africa
This is one of the most famous South African films. And yet, it is not a comedy like most of our current films, nor it is a film against apartheid. Apartheid is taken for granted by everyone in the film, with a possible exception of an expatriate black pastor who, thoroughly westernized, appears only very briefly at the beginning of the film.
The greatest strength of the film is that it rings true. All characters, while thinking and acting in so many different ways, are believable to anyone who lived in South Africa. Each of them has his inner truth. The acting is superb, there is not a single false note. The direction is straightforward, its goal is to document the story, it does not aspire to more. There is no need to show off, if the sea is beautiful, yes, it is beautiful but it is there only because it has its part to play. The camera does self-indulge in a way which might have felt dated even in 1969 (scenes of a young couple in love) but it's easy to forgive.
There are a few sentences in Afrikaans but, again, this has its function and should not worry anybody.
One of the young lovers (a minor role) is played by very young Katinka Heyns who, besides her excellent directing, is also well known in South Africa as an actress. To quote The National Television & Video Association of South Africa:
"Katinka Heyns is an acclaimed actress, director and producer who first won the collective heart of South Africa as an actress in films such as "Katrina" and in the television series "Willem". She is honoured for work such as her first feature film "Fiela se Kind" and its strong anti-apartheid statement, as well as "Die storie van Klara Viljee", a feminist film supporting the rights of female individuals. Her feature film "Paljas" was the first South African film to be accepted as an entry in the Oscar Awards category for "Best Foreign Film"."
Possibly with the help of her blond and fair-skinned son, Katrina has been accepted as a white person and she wants to stay that way and be happy. Sure, she loves her dying mother who lives in a village, and her brother and all the others but would not dream of returning to her coloured (mixed race in South Africa) village because living like a white person in town "is a different life!"
She wants her son, Paul, to feel the same way. Paul does not even know that he is coloured. But he is a doctor and is prepared to serve where he is most needed and, in his profession, he is remarkably colour-blind. This is a tragic story and almost everybody suffers one way or another in the film, and Paul gets his share. Despite the tragedy in the air, the film manages to avoid being depressing or unpleasant. It also keeps your attention all the time.
Alec Treveyllan is a white pastor who comes with a dark secret. Katrina could help him if she did not have her own deception to handle. In the meantime, he is miserable, lonely and vulnerable. Does he really love her (and her songs - truly beautiful!) or does he just need her strength?
Adam September is a coloured ideologist of apartheid. He does not want to be white, he wants to uplift his own people. He also wants to protect his sister Katrina who does not want to be protected...
An interesting thought comes to mind: what if coloureds of today are much darker than in 1969? Katrinas and Pauls acted as a sort of natural selection - weeding out white man's genes from the coloured community! At the same time, under apartheid, the area in and around Cape Town was reserved to whites and coloureds - then guess who the blacks who managed to settle in the Cape pretended to be?
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